Smithsonian Report for 1913

Date: 1914

Show Summary





The early history of the human race, though merged in the darkness of ages, is step by step being traced and reconstructed; and apparently the time is drawing near when science will be able to announce, in the main at least, the definite solution of the profound and involved problem of man’s origin, when, in other words, it will be in a position to show, however imperfectly, when, where, and how man ascended from the lower orders.

Actual research into the antiquity of mankind began considerably less than a century ago, and the more intensive investigations in this field cover hardly a generation. Such investigations have been fraught with many difficulties and arc growing in complexity. They demand patient watchfulness, diligent and long-extended exploration, and considerable expense. The most careful attention must in every case be given to geological and paleontological evidence. And, after all, the net results of a prolonged quest may be no more than a few stone chips and implements, or perhaps a tooth, or a few badly crushed bones, belonging to human antiquity. But, as there are many hands at work, invaluable materials are accumulating. Besides this every now and then the search is more richly rewarded, or some important specimen is discovered accidentally; and every new, well-authenticated addition to the remains of early man or his predecessors, more particularly if it is a part of the skeleton, means a fresh, highly valuable document which throws supplementary light on the natural history of the human being. . . .

Europe, particularly in its more western and southern portions, has thus far proved the richest in ancient human remains. Africa, Asia, and those parts of Oceanica which were formerly connected with the Asiatic continent have as yet been but little explored. The island of Java, however, which is within the last named region, has furnished an intensely interesting specimen bearing on man’s evolution and antiquity. As to America, the researches have thus far yielded nothing that could possibly be accepted as representing man of geological antiquity. For the present, therefore, an account of the very ancient remains of man, with the exception of the Java specimen, must be limited to early European forms. . . .


In 1891–92 Dr. E. Dubois, then a surgeon in the Dutch army, while engaged in paleontological excavations along the left bank of the Bengavan River, near Trinil, in the central part of the Island of Java, discovered several skeletal parts of a primate evidently higher in scale and nearer to man than any before known.

The remains were thoroughly petrified and comprised, in all, the vault of a skull, two molar teeth, and a femur.

The bones were not found simultaneously nor in the same place. They lay some distances apart, though at the same horizon and embedded in the same stratum of volcanic matrix. This stratum was rich in fossil remains of various organic forms and, in the locality where the excavations were carried on, was about 1 meter below the dry-season water level, or 12 to 15 meters below the plain in which the river had cut its bed.

In September, 1891, the excavations in the volcanic matrix yielded unexpectedly, among other fossils, a remarkable tooth, a molar which was determined as having belonged to a large unknown primate. A month later the unique and most interesting skull cap was discovered, only 1 meter distant from the place where lay the tooth. It now became certain that traces had come to light of a hitherto unknown primate of large size, standing in many respects nearer to man than any of the actual anthropoid apes. It was seemingly an intermediate form between the apes and man, and was characterized by the name of "pithecanthropus."

Then came the rainy season and work had to be suspended. Exploration was recommenced, however, as early as Possible in 1892, and in August of that year the femur was found about 15 meters (50 feet) from the locality where the other specimens had been embedded. Finally, in October of the same year, the second molar was secured, at a distance of not more than 3 meters (13 feet) from the original position of the skull cap, and in the direction of the resting place of the femur.

The accompanying illustration (fig. 1) shows the locality of the discovery and the approximate positions of the specimens.

All four specimens were considerably mineralized, being of chocolate-brown color, very heavy, and "harder than marble." Numerous bones of mammals found in the same bed belonged to species now extinct or, so far as known, not now living in Java, and showed fossilization similar to that of the bones of the Pithecanthropus. The contours of the teeth and the femur were sharp, indicating that it has not been washed or rolled about to any great extent; but the skull cap showed the effects of erosion, probably caused by acidulous water seeping through the deposits.

All indications and a detailed study of the specimens led Dubois to the conclusions that: (1) The four skeletal pieces in question were contemporaneous; (2) they were of the age of the stratum in which found; (3) they belonged to one skeleton; and (4) they represent a transitional form of beings between the anthropoid aloes and man, belonging to the direct line in the genealogy of the latter. . . .

Fig. 1. Section of the strata where the Pithecanthropus ones were discovered. B, soft sandstone; D, level at which the skeletal remains were found; F, argillaceous layer; G, marine breccia; H, wet-season level of the river; I, dry-season level of the river.

While Dubois and other scientific men regard the Pithecanthropus remains as all belonging to the same skeleton, as dating chronologically from the latest part of the Tertiary or the earliest phase of the Quaternary period, and as representing a true intermediary form between the anthropoid apes and man, others have expressed doubts as to whether the four bones belong to the same form; or they consider the age of the remains, though no doubt early Quarternary, to be less than that estimated by Dubois. . . .

The skull cap (fig. 2) measures in greatest length 18.5 cm., in greatest (parietal) breadth 13 cm., and at the minimum of the frontal constriction 8.7 cm. It is dolichocephalic, its outline as seen from above is oblongly ovoid, narrowing considerably forward, and it is very low. It presents excessively prominent though not massive supraorbital arch and a very sloping front. The frontal bone, in addition, shows externally and along its middle a well-defined ridge, running from a short distance above the glabella toward bregma, and a marked low protuberance just forward of the bregma. The sagittal region is relatively flat and smooth and the occiput presents a dull transverse crest, connecting as in apes, though in much less pronounced manner, with the supramastoid crest on each side.

Fig. 2. Pithecanthropus erectus skull cap, from left side.

Without going into a detailed discussion of these characteristics, it will suffice to say that in most respects the specimen differs more or less from the ordinary human skull of today as well as from those of early man, so far as known, and approaches correspondingly the crania of the anthropoid apes. . . .

The walls of the skull are of only moderate thickness. Its internal capacity was originally believed by Dubois to have been quite large, namely about 1,000 c.c., but eventually he reduced this estimate to 900 c.c. or a little over. The capacity of an average cranium of a white American would amount in the male to about 1,500, in the female to about 1,350 c.c., while in the largest living anthropoid apes it only rarely attains or exceeds 600 c.c.

The impression which a comprehensive study of the whole skull cap carries to the observer is, that it represents a hitherto unknown primate form, which, whatever it may eventually be identified with and whether or not man’s direct ancestor, stands morphologically between man and the known anthropoid apes, fills an important space in the hitherto existing large void between the two, and constitutes a precious document for the natural history of man.

Fig. 3. Restoration of the skull of Pithecanthropus (After Dubois).

Dubois’s theoretical restoration of the whole cranium of the Pithecanthropus, which in all probability comes fairly near to the reality, is shown in figure 3. . . .

On the whole, it seems evident that the two teeth represent a higher primate form; in all probability they come from one individual, and their morphological characteristics are such that they may well have belonged to the same species or even the same individual as the before-described skull cap. Their size, as seen from a comparison with the teeth of larger existing anthropoid apes, is not incompatible with the size of the skull cap, and that even if the latter belonged to a female individual.

The Trinil femur, according to Dubois, Manouvrier, and others, bears a close resemblance to the human thigh bone, both in size and shape; nevertheless it presents also some important differences. Its length, 45.5 cm., equals that of a human femur from a man 1.70 meters (5 feet, 7 inches) in stature, and of proportionate strength. . . .

The femur plainly belonged to a strong being maintaining erect or near-erect posture and marching mostly or entirely biped, as man. . . .


One of the oldest thoroughly authenticated skeletal relics so far discovered and attributable to a primitive human being, is the priceless specimen known as the Mauer jaw. This precious document of man’s evolution is deposited in the Paleontological Institute of Heidelberg. For its preservation and thorough description we are indebted to Dr. Otto Schoetensack, professor of Anthropology at Heidelberg University, who for years had been watching the finds in the sand pits near Mauer which eventually yielded the specimen. . . .

The deposits in which the specimen was discovered are located near the village of Mauer, which lies in the picturesque Elsenz Valley, 6 miles southeast from Heidelberg. . . .

The portion of these deposits owned by H. Rösch, located about 500 paces north of the Mauer village, have now been worked, in open manner, for upward of 30 years, in which time great quantities of building sand have been removed. During this work, particularly in the lower strata, the workingmen often unearthed fossil shells and fossil bones of various Quaternary animals. Many of these specimens found their way, mostly as gifts of Herr Rösch, to the Heidelberg University, and the diggings were repeatedly visited by scientific men, among whom Prof. Schoetensack. Both the owner and the workmen were enjoined to watch for better preserved specimens, and particularly for anything relating to the presence of man.

On the date of the find, two of the laborers were working in undisturbed material at the base of the exposure, over 80 feet in depth from the surface, when one of them suddenly brought out on his shovel part of a massive lower jaw which the implement had struck and cut in two. As the men knew it was worth while to carefully preserve all fossils, the specimen was handled with some care. The missing half was dug out, but the crowns of four of the teeth broken by the shovel were not recovered. The men were struck at once with the remarkable resemblance of the bone to a human lower jaw; but it looked to them too thick and large to be that of a man. They called Herr Rösch and he also was bewildered; but he recognized immediately that the specimen might be of considerable interest to Prof. Schoetensack and so he took charge of it. Returning to the village he telegraphed to the professor, who came the next day, and "once he got hold of the specimen, he would no more let it out of his possession." He took it to Heidelberg, cleaned it, repaired it, and in 1908 published its description in an exemplary way. Since then the valuable specimen has been preserved in the Paleontological Institute of the Heidelberg University, where, thanks to the liberality of those in charge, it is available for examination to men of science.

Shortly following the discovery of the jaw a most careful examination and study were made of the Mauer deposits. They were found to range from recent accumulations on the surface to Tertiary deposits in the lowest layers. The jaw lay a little less than three feet above the floor of the excavation and 79 feet from the surface. The same level, as well as some of the higher layers, yielded fossil bones of the Elephas antiquus, Rhinoceros etruscus, Felis leo fossilis, and various other extinct species. The age of the human jaw has been determined by these and subsequent exploration to be earlier Quaternary, though there seems to be some uncertainty as yet as to the exact subdivision of the period to which it should be attributed.

The original specimen, when seen, impresses one at once and potently as one of the greatest anthropological treasures. It is a huge lower jaw, which looks simultaneously both human and ape (fig. 4).

It presents no abnormality or any diseased condition that could have altered it in shape, so that it may well be regarded as a perfect representative of its type. The bone is dull yellowish-white to reddish in color, with numerous small and large blackish spots. The crowns of the teeth are dirty creamy white, with blackish discolorations on the somewhat worn off chewing surfaces of the canines and incisors, and a few similar spots over the molars; while all the parts of the teeth beneath the enamel are dull red, as if especially colored. It is much mineralized and feels more like so much limestone than bone. It weighs nearly 7 ounces.

The jaw is considerably larger and stouter than any other known human mandible. Its ascending rami are exceedingly broad. Its coronoid processes, thin and sharp in modern man, are thick, dull, broad, and markedly diverging. The chin slopes backward as in no human being now known or thus far discovered, with the possible exception of the recently reported Eoanthropus; and there are other primitive features. The total of the characteristics of the bone are such that, had the teeth been lost, it would surely have been regarded as the mandible of some large ape rather than that of any human being.

The teeth of the Mauer jaw, however, are perfectly preserved, and though large and provided with great roots and in various other ways primitive, they are unquestionably human teeth. They force the conclusion that their possessor, while of heavy, protruding face, huge muscles of mastication, wide and thick zygomatic arches, thick skull, probably heavy brows, and possibly not yet quite erect posture, had nevertheless already stepped over that line above which the being could be termed human. His food and probably his mode of life were related to those of primitive man, and he was already far removed from his primate ancestors with large canines. . . .

Fig. 4. The Mauer lower jaw. (After Schoetensack).


A somewhat problematical as yet but deeply interesting find of ancient human skeletal remains has recently come to light in England. The specimen representing this discovery is an imperfect cranium, with a part of the lower jaw and a canine tooth. It is known as the Sussex or Piltdown skull, or more technically as the Eoanthropus Dawsoni, and its preservation is due to Mr. Charles Dawson. It is deposited in the British Museum of Natural History at Kensington and was first reported, with the circumstances of the find, on December 18, 1912, before the London Geological Society.

The history of this specimen, as given by Mr. Dawson, illustrates the usefulness and need, especially in the Old World, of scientific supervision of excavations. Mr. Dawson’s statement is as follows:

Several years ago I was walking along a farm road close to Piltdown Common, Fletching (Sussex), when I noticed that the road had been mended with some peculiar brown flints not usual in the district. On inquiry I was astonished to learn that they were dug from a gravel bed on the farm, and shortly afterwards I visited the place, where two laborers were at work digging the gravel for small repairs to the roads. As this excavation was situated about four miles north of the limit where the occurrence of flints overlying the Wealden strata is recorded I was mush interested and made a close examination of the bed. I asked the workmen if they had found bones or other fossils there. As they did not appear to have noticed anything of the sort I urged them to preserve anything that they might find. Upon one of my subsequent visits to the pit, one of the men handed to me a small portion of an unusually thick human parietal bone. I immediately made a search, but could find nothing more nor had the men noticed anything else. The bed is full of tabular pieces of ironstone closely resembling this piece of skull in color and thickness; and, although I made many subsequent searches, I could not hear of any further find nor discover anything—in fact, the bed seemed to be quite unfossiliferous.

It was not until some years later, in the autumn of 1911, on a visit to the spot, that I picked up, among the rain-washed spoil heaps of the gravel pit, another and larger piece belonging to the frontal region of the same skull, including a portion of the left superciliary ridge. . . .

I took the bones to Dr. A. Smith Woodward at the British Museum (Natural History) for comparison and determination. He was immediately impressed with the importance of the discovery, and we decided to employ labor, and to make a systematic search among the spoil heaps and gravel as soon as the floods had abated, for the gravel pit is more or less under water during five or six months of the year. We accordingly gave up as much time as we could spare since last spring (1912) and completely turned over and sifted what spoil material remained; we also dug up and sifted such portions of the gravel as had been left undisturbed by the workmen. . . .

From the above Mr. Dawson believed himself justified in drawing the following conclusions:

It is clear that this stratified gravel at Piltdown is of Pleistocene age, but that it contains in its lowest stratum animal remains derived from some destroyed Pliocene deposit probably situated not far away and consisting of worn and broken fragments. These were mixed with fragmeats of early Pleistocene mammalia in a better state of preservation, and both forms were associated with the human skull and mandible, which show no more wear and tear than they might have received in situ. Associated with these animal remains are Eoliths, both in a rolled and an unrolled condition; the former are doubtless derived from the older drift, and the latter in their present form are of the age of the existing deposit. In the same bed, in only a very slightly higher stratum, occurred a flint implement, the workmanship of which resembles that of implements found at Chelles, and among the spoils heaps were found others of a similar, though perhaps earlier, stage.

Fig. 5. First restoration of the skull and mandible of Eoanthropus Dawsoni. (After Dawson and Woodward.)

From these facts it appears probable that the skull and mandible can not safely be described as being of earlier date than the first half of the Pleistocene (or Glacial) epoch. The individual probably lived during a warm cycle of that age. . . .

Of the brain case there are four pieces (reconstructed from nine fragments) sufficiently well preserved to exhibit the shape and natural relations of a larger part of the vault and to justify the reconstruction of some other features. These bones are particularly noteworthy for their thickness, which reached 20 mm. at the internal occipital protuberance and 10 mm. along the greater part of the fractured edges of the frontal and parietals. The average thickness of modern European skulls, except in the locality of the various ridges and sutures, varies between 4 and 6 mm. . . .

The reconstructed cranium (fig. 5) is evidently that of an adult, but not old, female. . . .

The left temporal bone, which is excellently preserved, is "typically human in every detail," and corresponds closely with the same bone in a comparatively modern human skull. The mastoid is rather small.

The capacity of the brain-case cannot, of course, be exactly determined; but measurements both by millet-seed and by water show that it must have been at least 1,070 cc., while a consideration of the missing parts suggests that it may have been a little more. It therefore agrees closely with the capacity of the brain-case of the Gibraltar skull, as determined by Prof. Keith, and equals that of some of the lowest skulls of the existing Australians. It is much below that of the Mousterian skulls from Spy and La Chapelle-aux-Saints. . . .

As regards the lower jaw and the teeth it will be best to quote again from Dr. Woodward. According to this observer: "While the skull, indeed, is evidently human, only approaching a lower grade in certain characters of the brain in the attachment for the neck, the extent of the temporal muscles and in the probably large size of the face, the mandible appears to be almost precisely that of an ape, with nothing human except the molar teeth. . . ."


The Skull of Gibraltar

The history of the specimen is, regrettably, somewhat defective. The first mention of it occurs in Falconer’s Paleontological Memoirs. . . .

Taking all the available data into consideration, it appears that the skull was discovered, accidentally, as early as 1848, therefore eight years before the Neandertal cranium made its appearance, in the "Forbes Quarry, situated on the north front of the Rock of Gibraltar." . . .

The skull was presented to the Gibraltar Scientific Society by its that time secretary, Lieut. Flint, but for many years received no scientific attention. In 1862 it came to England, with the collections from the Gibraltar caves, and was studied to some extent by Busk and Falconer. The latter, perceiving how much it differed from recent human skulls, proposed to refer it to a distinct variety of man, the Homo colpicus, after Calfé, the old name of Gibraltar. In 1868 finally Busk presented the cranium to the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, where it is still preserved.

The first descriptive account of the specimen was published, as mentioned above, by Broca, but the adhering stony matrix prevented at that time any attempts at accurate measurements. Subsequently it received attention from Huxley, Quatrefages, and Hamy, and later from Mac-namara, Klaatsch, Schwalbe, Sollas, Sera, and Keith, as well as the writer. It is a very remarkable specimen which, even though the geological and paleontological evidence relating to its antiquity is imperfect, does not allow for one moment any doubt as to its representing an early form of the human being; and its characteristics are such that it is now universally regarded as a representative, possibly a very early one, of the Homo neandertalensis.

Fig. 6. The Gibraltar Skull.

The cranium (fig. 6) is dirty yellowish to whitish in color. It is considerably mineralized. The stony matrix has been so far removed that all important determinations and measurements which the defective state of the bone itself permits, can now be made. A fortunate circumstance is that the frontal and facial parts are relatively well preserved; the vault on the other hand is largely defective, but even here sufficient portions remain to permit of a number of valuable determinations, and a fairly correct reconstruction. . . .

The vault, viewed from above, is ovoid in shape and decidedly low. The forehead is low and sloping. The cranial bones are thick, exceeding any in this line that can be found in normal modern Europeans.

The external dimensions of the skull are fairly large, but the brain was small. The cranial capacity is estimated by Keith as having been under 1,100 c.c.—that in an adult white woman of the present time averaging about 1,325 c.c.

The Neandertal Skull and Bones

The most famous of the skeletal remains representing early man are unquestionably the imperfect but highly characteristic specimens known as the Neandertal skull and bones. This important find more than any other has aroused scientific men to intense realization of the earlier phases of human evolution. The skull and to some extent also the other parts of the skeleton stand morphologically far below those of any existing type of man, being correspondingly nearer to the ancient primates; and their name has been deservedly taken to designate the entire early phase of mankind of which the skeleton is, as now well known, a prototype.

The skull, with other parts of the skeleton, were found in August, 1856. They were dug out accidentally by two laborers from a small cave, located at the entrance of the Neandertal gorge, in Westphalia, western Germany. The bones were given but little attention by the workmen, but fortunately news of the find reached an Elberfeld physician, Dr. Fuhlrott, and he was still able to save the skull cap (fig. 7), the femora, humeri, ulnae, right radius, portion of the left pelvic bone, portion of the right scapula, piece of the right clavicle, and five pieces of ribs. . . .

The principal details of Dr. Fuhlrott’s report were as follows:

A small cave or grotto, high enough to admit a man and about 15 feet deep from the entrance, which is 7 or 8 feet wide, exists An the southern wall of the gorge of the Neandertal, as it is termed, at a distance of about 100 feet from the Dussel and about 60 feet above the bottom of the valley (fig. 8). In its earlier and uninjured condition this cavern opened upon a narrow plateau lying in front of it and from which the rocky wall descended almost perpendicularly to the river. It could be reached, though with difficulty, from above. The uneven floor was covered to a thickness of 4 or 5 feet with a deposit of mud, sparingly intermixed with rounded fragments of chert. In the removing of this deposit the bones were discovered. The skull was first noticed, placed nearest to the entrance of the cavern; and further in were the other bones lying in the same horizontal plane. Of this I was assured in the most positive terms by two laborers who were employed to clear out the grotto, and who were questioned by me on the spot. At first no idea was entertained of the bones being human; and it was not till several weeks after their discovery that they were recognized as such by me and placed in security. But, as the importance of the discovery was not at the time perceived, the laborers were very careless in the collecting and secured chiefly only the larger bones; and to this circumstance it may be attributed that fragments merely of the probably perfect skeleton came into my possession. . . .

Following the early notices concerning the Neandertal cranium, and before other specimens of similar nature, such as the Spy, Gibraltar and others became known, an extensive controversy arose as to the real significance of the find. Virchow, and after him others, were at first inclined to look upon the skull as pathological; to Barnard Davis its sutures appeared to show premature synostosis; while Blake and his followers regarded the specimen as probably proceeding from an idiot. But there were also those, such as Schaaffhausen, Broca, and others, who from the beginning saw in the cranium (the other bones received at first but little attention) not any pathological or accidental monstrosity, but a peculiar, thereto unknown type of ancient humanity. Then gradually new examples of this same early type appeared in different parts of Europe, under circumstances which steadily strengthened the claim of the whole class to geological antiquity; and when eventually a thorough comparative study of the Neandertal remains was carried out by modern methods and in view of new knowledge, the cranium and bones were definitely recognized as representing, in a normal and most characteristic way, a most interesting earlier phase or variety of mankind, our mid-quarternary predecessor or close relative Homo neanderthalensis. The credit for deserving work in this field is due especially to Prof. G. Schwalbe, of Strassburg, whose numerous publications on the early forms of human remains in Europe are well known to every anthropologist. . . .

Fig. 7. The Neandertal skull.

The skull is gray in color, with large mud-brownish patches on the outside, and whitish gray to whitish brown on the inside. It is decidedly heavy and mineralized. It is plainly non-pathological. . . .

The facial and basal parts are lacking. The vault shows very good dimensions in length and breadth, but is strikingly low, and the bones are considerably thicker than in the white man of to-day, so that the brain cavity was only moderate.

Besides its lowness the vault is characterized by a very decided protrusion of the whole supra-orbital region. The supra-orbital fore-struc-ture or arch formed through this protrusion is heavier than in any other known example of the Homo neandertalensis. . . .

The forehead is very low and also slopes markedly backward, nevertheless it presents a moderately well-defined convexity. . . . The thickness of the frontal bone at the eminences is 8.5 mm.; of the left parietal, along and 1 cm. above the squamous suture, 6 to 8 mm.; these measurements are about one-third greater than those of the skull of an average modern European. . . .

Fig. 8. Section of the Neandertal Cave, near Düsseldorf. (After Lyell.) a. Cavern 60 feet above the Düssell, and 100 feet below the surface of the country at c. b. Loam covering the floor of the cave, near the bottom of which the human skeleton was found.

The internal capacity of the skull has been estimated by Schaaffhausen at 1,033 c.c., by Huxley at 1,230 c.c., and by Schwalbe at 1,234 c.c.

The brain which filled the skull was lower and narrower and slightly more pointed than the human brain of to-day, approaching in these features more the anthropoid form. The right frontal lobe was slightly larger and longer than the left, and the whole right hemisphere was slightly longer than that of the opposite side. In the present man it is generally the left hemisphere which is the longer, but this exception in the Neandertal man is not necessarily of any special significance.

The long and other bones of the skeleton, so far as preserved, show many features of anthropological inferiority, demonstrating plainly that not merely the skull, but the whole body of the Neandertal man occupied a lower evolutionary stage than that of any normal human being of the historic times. However, many of the details on these points are technical and must be reserved for another publication. The bones in general indicate a powerful musculature. They belong doubtless to a male individual. The stature of the man was about like the average of the present man in central Europe, or but slightly lower (the femora indicate, according to Manouvrier’s scale, approximately 165 cm.). . . .

A careful examination and comparison of the Neandertal skull and bones can leave only one impression on the anatomist or anthropologist of to-day, which is that while individually and jointly the various parts represent a human being already far advanced above any anthropoid, they are still in many respects decidedly more primitive in form—that is, on a lower scale of evolution—than the skull and bones of any man of to-day.

The remains are unquestionably the most precious representatives of the important phase of early humanity which we now include under the name of Homo neandertalensis.

The Spy Skeletons

In June of 1886 Messrs. Marcel de Puydt, member of the Archaeological Institute of Liege, and Maximin Lohest, at that time assistant of geology of the University of Liege, discovered in the terrace fronting a certain cave at Spy, in the Province of Namur, Belgium, the remains of two human skeletons associated with the débris of extinct Quaternary animals. The discovery was immediately brought to the attention of Prof. J. Fraipont, of the Liege University, and on the 16th of August, 1886, he announced the important find to the Congrès archéologique of Namur. . . .

The human bones lay in the lowest Farts of the deposits, one 6, the other 8 meters in front of the entrance to the cave. They represented two individuals. One of these lay on its side, the hand touching the lower jaw; in the case of the other the original position could not be determined.

The terrace containing the Spy skeletons was situated 47.5 feet above the shallow bed of the stream running at the foot of the mountain, and the bones lay at the depth of 13 feet from the surface The accumulations which formed the terrace included calcareous débris, various archaeological traces of man’s presence, and numerous remains of fossil animals. They could be separated into several strata, none of which showed any perceptible disturbance.

The layer in which the human skeletons were inclosed yielded also bones of the following fossil Quaternary mammals: Rhinoceros tichorhinus (abundant); Equus caballus (very abundant); Cervus elaphus (rare); Cervus tarandus (very rare); Bos primigenius (fairly abundant); Elephas primigenius (common); Ursus spelœus (rare); Meles Taxus (rare); Hyœna spelœa (abundant).

This layer further contained a sliver of an animal bone which showed a crude adaptation for use, and worked stones of inferior workmanship, referable to the Mousterian period. The layer immediately above, undoubtedly of lesser age, gave besides the bones of similar fossil animals also those of a few living species, several thousands worked flints, some of which still of the Mousterian type, many worked bones including arrow points, and also fragments of pottery.

Considering the animal and archaeological remains associated with the human skeletons, together with the absence of disturbance in the superimposed more recent layers, Lohest believed himself justified to refer the Spy remains to the Mousterian period; and the deductions of Frai-pont, based on the study of the skeletal remains themselves, were that they belonged to the Neandertal man. Since then the Spy remains have received careful consideration by every student of early man and the above classification was found to need no radical revision. . . .

Fig. 9. Spy skull No. 1.

The bones of skeleton No. 1 are in general weaker than those of No. 2, but whether this is due to sexual difference of the two individuals, or is merely accidental, is difficult to determine. No. 2 was of a decidedly powerful musculature. The stature of the Spy man, so far as it can be determined from these remaining bones, was slightly less than that of the Neandertal man and somewhat below the medium of white man of central Europe of the present day. . . .

The two skulls are plainly normal specimens, free from disease or deformation, and belonged to adults, approaching in No. 1 middle age, while No. 2 was younger. . . .

No. 1 is almost a replica of the Neandertal cranium. There is a similarly prominent, though not quite as heavy, supra-orbital arch; the forehead is even a trace lower and a trace more sloping than in the Neandertal skull, and the general shape of the vault is much the same. The vault is also very low, but the sagittal region shows a slightly more perceptible elevation than that in the Neandertal specimen.

Skull No. 2 on the other hand, while possessing similar prominent supra-orbital arch as No. 1, has a considerably higher and more convex forehead, the whole vault is higher as well as more spacious, and the form approaches in many respects that in modern man. The brain cavity in No. 1 is anteriorly low and relatively narrower, as well aa somewhat more pointed, than in recent human crania; in No. 2 these features are also more like those in the present man. On the whole it may be said that No. 2, while in some respects still very primitive, represents morphologically a decided step from the Neandertaloid to the present-day type of the human cranium.

The lower jaw of No. 1, while yet of a primitive form, possesses nevertheless already a trace of the chin prominence, and in size and anatomical characteristics is closer to the present-day form than any of the other known lower jaws dating from the Mousterian period; and the same is true of the teeth which, though considerably worn, were evidently much like human teeth of to-day. . . .

The remaining bones of the Spy skeletons show various anatomical peculiarities and secondary primitive features, but these call for a technical description and comparisons. A rather unexpected condition, found since in other skeletons of Homo neandertalensis, is the relative shortness of the fore-arms, as well as the legs. . . .

The Diluvial Man of Krapina

One of the most important finds relating to the Homo neandertalensis is unquestionably that of the Krapina cave, in northern Croatia. It comprises a whole series of human bones of well-determined age, and the remains were not recovered accidentally or by ignorant laborers, but through prolonged, painstaking exploration. The bones themselves are for the most part fragmentary, which is much to be regretted, but they represent numerous individuals, and they show on one hand such similarities and on the other such variation of structure, that they are of the greatest value to the student of ancient humanity. . . .

The locality became known in 1895, after two Croatian teachers discovered in the superficial deposits of the cave some teeth of rhinoceros and fragments of other fossil bones. These finds were brought to the attention of some of the scientific men at Zagreb (Agram), but no thorough examination of the site was undertaken until 1899. In that year the place was visited by Dr. K. Gorjanoviĕ-Kramberger, professor of geology and paleontology in the University of Zagreb and the director of the geological division of the Narodni Muzej of Zagreb, Croatia; and on excavation it was soon found that the Krapina hollow was in all probability one of the stations of early man and as such deserved a thorough exploration. Such exploration was begun without delay and was carried on, with some interruptions, until 1905, when the contents of the shelter became exhausted. . . .

The collections consist of several thousands of various fossil animal bones, mostly fragmentary, but some well preserved; of hundreds of stone flakes the rejects of stone manufacture, and of stone implements; and of parts of human bones proceeding from at least 14 skeletons.

The animal bones represent either totally extinct forms or species now extinct in Croatia. The most common are those of Rhinoceros Merckii, Ursus spelœus, and Bos primigenius. By these remains the age of the deposits has been determined as earlier Diluvial (i.e., interglacial), corresponding in all probability to the latter part of the Mousterian culture epoch in western Europe. The stone implements belong to the Mousterian and earlier types. . . .

The bones represent, as already mentioned, the remains of at least 14 individuals of both sexes, ranging from childhood to ripe adult age. The fragmentation of the skulls, lower jaws and some of the long bones is excessive, and of such a nature as to suggest that it was caused otherwise than by accidental breaking or crushing. A number of the fragments show also the effects of burning, and one specimen, a portion of the supra-orbital part of a frontal, presents some cuts. These different conditions, together with the absence of many parts of the skulls and bones, with total lack of association of the fragments and the commingling of the human with the animal bones, led Gorjanoviĕ-Kramberger to the opinion that the remains represent the leavings of occasional cannibalistic feasts and are not burials. . . .

The long and other bones of the skeleton, relatively less interesting than the skulls and jaws, show the Krapina man to have been, as compared with central European white man of to-day, of moderate stature, and outside of the powerful jaws, of strong though not excessive muscular development. Some individuals were very perceptibly weaker than others. . . .

The fragments of the skulls show that the bones of the vault were considerably thicker than they are in the white man of to-day. The crania were of good size externally, but the brain cavities were probably below the present average. The vault of the skull was of good length and at the same time fairly bread, so that the cephalic index, at least in some of the individuals, was more elevated than usual in the crania of early man. They were also characterized, as the Neandertal and other crania of the man from the Mousterian epoch, by lowness of the vault, and in every instance among the adults by a pronounced, complete supraorbital arc. The last-named feature, though less marked, is plainly distinguishable even in the children. Its invariable presence is a definite proof of the fact, not quite well established before, that this arc was up to a certain phase of the Quaternary period a regular characteristic of the early man of a large part of Europe. . . .

Taking everything into consideration, it is evident that the diluvial man of Krapina represents a group belonging to the family of the Homo neandertalensis. . . .

The Fossil Man of La Chapelle-aux-Saints

One of the most interesting, best authenticated, and thanks to Prof. Marcellin Boule, now best known skeletons of Early Man, is that of "the fossil man of La Chapelle-Aux-Saints."

La Chapelle-aux-Saints is a small village, in the Department of Corrèze, near the small railroad station of Vayrac and south of the town of Brive, in southern France. A little over 200 yards from the village and beyond the left bank of the small stream Sourdoire, in the side of a moderate elevation, is located a cave, now known as that of La Chapelle-aux-Saints. In 1905 archaeological exploration of this cave was undertaken by three Corrèze priests, the abbés A. and J. Bouyssonie and L. Bardon. These explorations which from the beginning were successful, resulting in the recovery of numerous industrial and other vestiges of paleolithic man, progressed gradually until the uniform archaeological stratum was nearly exhausted, when, on the 3rd of August, 1908, the excavators came across a shallow artificial fossa in the floor of the cave in which lay the bones of a remarkable human skeleton. . . .

The various reports show that the cave of La Chapelle-aux-Saints is a moderate-sized and rather low cavity, about 6 meters long, 2 to 4 meters broad, and 1 to 1.50 meters high. When first approached it was seen to be nearly filled with accumulations, which later disclosed numerous traces of man, and by débris of the rock from the roof and sides. The deposits bearing traces of the presence of man were found to proceed from but one age and one culture, namely the Mousterian. The objects of archaeological interest recovered during the excavation comprise in the main worked stones of the well-known Mousterian types, and remains of bones of fossil animals, such as the reindeer, bison, Rhinoceros tichorhinus, etc. . . .

Under the accumulations the floor of the cavern was found to be whitish, hard, marly calcareous; and in this hard base, at the distance of a little over four meters from the entrance of the cave, was located the nearly rectangular, moderate-sized cavity which lodged the fossil human skeleton. The depression was clearly made by the primitive inhabitants or visitors of the cave for the bodY and the whole represents very plainly a regular burial, the most ancient intentional burial thus far discovered.

The body lay on its back, with the head to the westward, the latter being surrounded by stones. The left arm was extended, the right probably bent so that the hand was applied to or lay near the head. The lower limbs were partly flexed. Above the head were found three or four large flat fragments of long bones of animals, and somewhat higher there lay, still in their natural relation, some foot bones of a large Bovid, suggesting that the whole foot of the animal may have been placed in that position. About the body were many flakes of quartz and flint, some fragments of ochre, broken animal bones, etc., much as in the rest of the archaeological stratum above the skeleton. . . .

Fig. 10. La Chapelle-aux-Saints skull.

The La Chapelle skull (fig. 10), notwithstanding its many peculiarities, is plainly a normal specimen, not affected (except in the dental arches) by any disease or by any premature closure of sutures.

The skull is distinctly masculine, and proceeds from an adult of somewhat advanced age.

Its vault is remarkably like that of the Neandertal cranium, though somewhat larger. There is the same huge, prominent, complete supra-orbital arch. The nasal process is equally broad and sloping considerably downward and backward. Due to the pronounced supraorbital arch the upper half of the orbits, as in the Neandertal skull, has a somewhat forward and downward inclination, wholly unlike that of any man of to-day. The forehead, while low, is somewhat better formed than in the Neandertal and Spy No. 1 crania and less sloping. . . .

Fig. 11. Outline of four skulls of Neandertal man, seen from above.

The bones of the vault, again, as in the Neandertal and other crania of this type, are thicker than in the skulls of modern man; nevertheless the capacity of the skull was quite large. Prof. Boule estimates it at from 1,600 to 1,620 c.c. This indicates not necessarily a superior brain, but rather one subserving to largely developed organs and powerful musculature. . . .

The lower jaw is large, stout, chinless—though not sloping backward at the symphisis, and otherwise primitive. It was doubtless high, but the reduction of the alveolar process through pyorrhoea and absorption does not permit a definite appreciation of this character. . . .

The long and other bones of the skeleton are, on the whole, less remarkable than those of the Neandertal or Spy remains, but the peculiarities and primitive features which they possess are of much the same order. The stature of the Chapelle-aux-Saints man is estimated by Prof. Boule to have been about 1.611 meters (5 ft. 3 in.), which is close to that of the Neandertal man and the man of Spy. The bones are robust; the extremities of the long bones are large. The radii and ulnæ and especially the tibiæ and fibulæ, are again, as in other skeletons of the Neandertal type, relatively short. There is also the pronounced curvature to the radius; and there are other peculiarities about the specimens an enumeration of which in this place is not feasible. Certain of these peculiarities indicate, according to Prof. Boule, that the individual from

Fig. 12. Profiles of the cranium of a chimpanzee, the cranium of La Chapelle-aux-Saints, and that of a modern Frenchman superposed, and with a common basi-nasal line equal in length for each. (After Boule.)

whom the Chapelle-aux-Saints skeletal remains proceed had, in common with others of the Neandertal type, not as yet reached a fully erect posture.

The study of the brain of this individual, so far as possible from a cast of the cranial cavity, also shows various features of importance. Among the more strictly human characteristics are its large size, normally always a very favorable feature, though not necessarily an index of high intelligence; a predominance in size of the left over the right hemisphere; and certain other anatomical features. The more simian characteristics included especially the general form of the organ, the evident simplicity and coarseness of the convolutions, and the relatively poor development of tim frontal parts, which is more pointed forward than obtains in man of to-day. "The brain, on the whole," to quote Prof. Boule, "is already human by the abundance of the cerebral substance; but this substance is still lacking the advanced organization which characterizes the brain of the actual man.". . .

Fig. 13. The Upper (A) and lower (B) Le Moustier caves and the position of the skeleton of Homo mousteriensis.

The Moustier Man

Still another highly interesting and scientifically valuable skeleton of early man, recently discovered, is that of the so-called "Homo mousteriensis Hauseri." The skeleton is preserved in the Museum für Völker-kunde at Berlin, where it was seen by the writer. It was discovered in March, 1908, by O. Hauser, during archaeological excavation in what is known as "the lower Moustier cave," or "paleolithic station number 44," at Le Moustier, in the valley of the Vezère, Department of Dordogne, France, and was eventually purchased from Herr Hauser for the Berlin Museum.

The cave in question (fig. 13), or more properly rock shelter, when excavated gave numerous evidences of man’s occupation, but no human bones. The skeleton under consideration was discovered in the terrace in front of the cave, almost vertically below its entrance. It lay about 3 feet deep and no disturbance in the superimposed deposits was noticeable.

Fig. 14. Skull of Homo Mousteriensis Hauseri.

The human bones were uncovered with great care in the presence of responsible witnesses, then covered again with earth and left in situ for several months, though shown during this time to a number of visitors. In August they were exposed for Virchow, v. d. Steinen, Klaatsch, and other scientific men, and finally, two days afterwards, in the presence of Prof. Klaatsch, they were gathered from the deposits. . . .

The skeleton, it appears, lay on its side in a natural position, with the right hand under the occiput, the left extended along the body. About the body and among the bones were found seventy-four worked flints, ten of which were of a well-defined form. On the skull rested a charred bone of a Bos primigenius, and in the neighborhood of the thorax lay a tooth of the same animal. Besides this, 45 other fragments of animal bones were gathered in a close vicinity to the human remains.

The examination of the human bones was begun on the spot by Prof. Klaatsch, who eventually reached the following conclusions:

The skeleton belongs to an adolescent of perhaps 16 years of age and probably of the male sex. The height of the boy, as estimated from the long bones, was probably 1.45 to 1.50 meters (4 feet 9 inches to 4 feet 11 inches).

The skull (fig. 14), notwithstanding the youth of the subject, shows a number of characteristics which are peculiar to the Neandertal group. While of a good size, with only moderately thick bones of the vault and the latter of a fair height, it shows nevertheless a rather low and sloping forehead; a well-marked complete supraorbital arch or torus, which later in life would doubtless have become much more prominent; relatively large dental arches, with large and in a number of particulars primitive teeth; a massive lower jaw with complete absence of the chin eminence; and other interesting features. . . .

Klaatsch reached the deduction that the skeleton belongs undoubtedly to the Homo neandertalensis variety of the early European.


2 The author’s account of Eoanthropus comes before that of Heidelberg man, but the place of the two sections is here interchanged to conform with the usual opinion of the age and developmental priority of the forms.

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: Smithsonian Report for 1913

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Smithsonian Report for 1913

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Smithsonian Report for 1913 in Source Book in Anthropology, ed. Kroeber, Alfred L., 1876-1960, and Waterman, T. T. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1920), Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2023,

MLA: . Smithsonian Report for 1913, in Source Book in Anthropology, edited by Kroeber, Alfred L., 1876-1960, and Waterman, T. T., Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1920, Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: , Smithsonian Report for 1913. cited in 1920, Source Book in Anthropology, ed. , University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2023, from