Darwin Theory Still Intact, Two Anthropologists Affirm
Contrary to current newspaper reports, a new identification of a 10,000,000-year-old fossil as "humanoid" does not refute Darwin's theory of evolution, two University faculty members claimed yesterday.
William W. Howells '30, professor of Anthropology, and Hallam L. Movius, Jr. '30, associate professor of Anthropology, charged the press, particularly the New York Times, with misrepresenting a recent theory in anthropology.
Both were at a meeting of anthropology scholars in New York a week ago Saturday when Johannes Hurzeler, a Swiss paleontologist, lectured on his thesis that Oreopithecus, a creature whose fossilized jaw-bone was found in 1872, was more human-like than ape-like.
Because the "humanoid" Oreopithecus was a contemporary 10,000,000 years ago of proconsul and dryopithecus, these two apes could not have been ancestors of man, as they have often been considered. Although Hurzeler's thesis proves that man had a long history separate from the apes, Howells denied that it refutes Darwinian evolution.
Still a Common Ancestry
Howells explained that Darwin was concerned primarily with proving how evolution takes place through natural selection rather than with tracing the ancestry of man. Hurzeler's theory, Howells says, does not disprove the belief of Darwin and of modern scientists that men and apes probably had a common ancestry. The theory merely asserts that man and ape separated into distinct species more than 10,000,000 years ago instead of more recently, as was formerly believed, Howells said.
Movius termed the newspapers' connection of Hurzeler's discovery and the Darwinian theory "completely and absolutely unjustified." He referred to the reports of Hurzeler's lectures as a "silly kind of smart-aleck journalism."