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Descent of Man [ 1871]

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« Reply #180 on: February 10, 2009, 01:25:42 pm »

Throughout the great American continent the men may be said to be
beardless; but in almost all the tribes a few short hairs are apt to
appear on the face, especially in old age. With the tribes of North
America, Catlin estimates that eighteen out of twenty men are
completely destitute by nature of a beard; but occasionally there
may be seen a man, who has neglected to pluck out the hairs at
puberty, with a soft beard an inch or two in length. The Guaranys of
Paraguay differ from all the surrounding tribes in having a small
beard, and even some hair on the body, but no whiskers.* I am informed
by Mr. D. Forbes, who particularly attended to this point, that the
Aymaras and Quechuas of the Cordillera are remarkably hairless, yet in
old age a few straggling hairs occasionally appear on the chin. The
men of these two tribes have very little hair on the various parts
of the body where hair grows abundantly in Europeans, and the women
have none on the corresponding parts. The hair on the head, however,
attains an extraordinary length in both sexes, often reaching almost
to the ground; and this is likewise the case with some of the N.
American tribes. In the amount of hair, and in the general shape of
the body, the sexes of the American aborigines do not differ so much
from each other, as in most other races.*(2) This fact is analogous
with what occurs with some closely allied monkeys; thus the sexes of
the chimpanzee are not as different as those of the orang or

  * Catlin, North American Indians, 3rd. ed., 1842, vol. ii., p.
227. On the Guaranys, see Azara, Voyages dans l'Amerique Merid.,
tom. ii., 1809, p. 85; also Rengger, Saugethiere von Paraguay, s. 3.
  *(2) Prof. and Mrs. Agassiz (Journey in Brazil, p. 530) remark
that the sexes of the American Indians differ less than those of the
negroes and of the higher races. See also Rengger, ibid., p. 3, on the
  *(3) Rutimeyer, Die Grenzen der Thierwelt; eine Betrachtung zu
Darwin's Lehre, 1868, s. 54.

  In the previous chapters we have seen that with mammals, birds,
fishes, insects, &c., many characters, which there is every reason
to believe were primarily gained through sexual selection by one
sex, have been transferred to the other. As this same form of
transmission has apparently prevailed much with mankind, it will
save useless repetition if we discuss the origin of characters
peculiar to the male sex together with certain other characters common
to both sexes.

  Law of Battle.- With savages, for instance, the Australians, the
women are the constant cause of war both between members of the same
tribe and between distinct tribes. So no doubt it was in ancient
times; "nam fuit ante Helenam mulier teterrima belli causa." With some
of the North American Indians, the contest is reduced to a system.
That excellent observer, Hearne,* says:- "It has ever been the
custom among these people for the men to wrestle for any woman to whom
they are attached; and, of course, the strongest party always
carries off the prize. A weak man, unless he be a good hunter, and
well-beloved, is seldom permitted to keep a wife that a stronger man
thinks worth his notice. This custom prevails throughout all the
tribes, and causes a great spirit of emulation among their youth,
who are upon all occasions, from their childhood, trying their
strength and skill in wrestling." With the Guanas of South America,
Azara states that the men rarely marry till twenty years old or
more, as before that age they cannot conquer their rivals.

  * A Journey from Prince of Wales Fort, 8vo ed., Dublin, 1796, p.
104. Sir J. Lubbock (Origin of Civilisation, 1870, p. 69) gives
other and similar cases in North America. For the Guanas of South
America see Azara, Voyages, &c., tom. ii., p. 94.

  Other similar facts could be given; but even if we had no evidence
on this head, we might feel almost sure, from the analogy of the
higher Quadrumana,* that the law of battle had prevailed with man
during the early stages of his development. The occasional
appearance at the present day of canine teeth which project above
the others, with traces of diastema or open space for the reception of
the opposite canines, is in all probability a case of reversion to a
former state, when the progenitors of man were provided with these
weapons, like so many existing male Quadrumana. It was remarked in a
former chapter that as man gradually became erect, and continually
used his hands and arms for fighting with sticks and stones, as well
as for the other purposes of life, he would have used his jaws and
teeth less and less. The jaws, together with their muscles, would then
have been reduced through disuse, as would the teeth through the not
well understood principles of correlation and economy of growth; for
we everywhere see that parts, which are no longer of service, are
reduced in size. By such steps the original inequality between the
jaws and teeth in the two sexes of mankind would ultimately have
been obliterated. The case is almost parallel with that of many male
ruminants, in which the canine teeth have been reduced to mere
rudiments, or have disappeared, apparently in consequence of the
development of horns. As the prodigious difference between the
skulls of the two sexes in the orang and gorilla stands in close
relation with the development of the immense canine teeth in the
males, we may infer that the reduction of the jaws and teeth in the
early male progenitors of man must have led to a most striking and
favourable change in his appearance.

  * On the fighting of the male gorillas, see Dr. Savage, in Boston
Journal of Natural History, vol. v., 1847, p. 423. On Presbytis
entellus, see the Indian Field, 1859, p. 146.

  There can be little doubt that the greater size and strength of man,
in comparison with woman, together with his broader shoulders, more
developed muscles, rugged outline of body, his greater courage and
pugnacity, are all due in chief part to inheritance from his
half-human male ancestors. These characters would, however, have
been preserved or even augmented during the long ages of man's
savagery, by the success of the strongest and boldest men, both in the
general struggle for life and in their contests for wives; a success
which would have ensured their leaving a more numerous progeny than
their less favoured brethren. It is not probable that the greater
strength of man was primarily acquired through the inherited effects
of his having worked harder than woman for his own subsistence and
that of his family; for the women in all barbarous nations are
compelled to work at least as hard as the men. With civilised people
the arbitrament of battle for the possession of the women has long
ceased; on the other hand, the men, as a general rule, have to work
harder than the women for their joint subsistence, and thus their
greater strength will have been kept up.

  Difference in the Mental Powers of the two Sexes.- With respect to
differences of this nature between man and woman, it is probable
that sexual selection has played a highly important part. I am aware
that some writers doubt whether there is any such inherent difference;
but this is at least probable from the analogy of the lower animals
which present other secondary sexual characters. No one disputes
that the bull differs in disposition from the cow, the wild-boar
from the sow, the stallion from the mare, and, as is well known to the
keepers of menageries, the males of the larger apes from the
females. Woman seems to differ from man in mental disposition, chiefly
in her greater tenderness and less selfishness; and this holds good
even with savages, as shewn by a well-known passage in Mungo Park's
Travels, and by statements made by many other travellers. Woman, owing
to her maternal instincts, displays these qualities towards her
infants in an eminent degree; therefore it is likely that she would
often extend them towards her fellow-creatures. Man is the rival of
other men; he delights in competition, and this leads to ambition
which passes too easily into selfishness. These latter qualities
seem to be his natural and unfortunate birthright. It is generally
admitted that with woman the powers of intuition, of rapid perception,
and perhaps of imitation, are more strongly marked than in man; but
some, at least, of these faculties are characteristic of the lower
races, and therefore of a past and lower state of civilisation.
  The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is
shewn by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes
up, than can woman- whether requiring deep thought, reason, or
imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists
were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting,
sculpture, music (inclusive both of composition and performance),
history, science, and philosophy, with half-a-dozen names under each
subject, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer,
from the law of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by
Mr. Galton, in his work on Hereditary Genius, that if men are
capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in many subjects, the
average of mental power in man must be above that of woman.
  Amongst the half-human progenitors of man, and amongst savages,
there have been struggles between the males during many generations
for the possession of the females. But mere bodily strength and size
would do little for victory, unless associated with courage,
perseverance, and determined energy. With social animals, the young
males have to pass through many a contest before they win a female,
and the older males have to retain their females by renewed battles.
They have, also, in the case of mankind, to defend their females, as
well as their young, from enemies of all kinds, and to hunt for
their joint subsistence. But to avoid enemies or to attack them with
success, to capture wild animals, and to fashion weapons, requires the
aid of the higher mental faculties, namely, observation, reason,
invention, or imagination. These various faculties will thus have been
continually put to the test and selected during manhood; they will,
moreover, have been strengthened by use during this same period of
life. Consequently in accordance with the principle often alluded
to, we might expect that they would at least tend to be transmitted
chiefly to the male offspring at the corresponding period of manhood.
  Now, when two men are put into competition, or a man with a woman,
both possessed of every mental quality in equal perfection, save
that one has higher energy, perseverance, and courage, the latter will
generally become more eminent in every pursuit, and will gain the
ascendancy.* He may be said to possess genius- for genius has been
declared by a great authority to be patience; and patience, in this
sense, means unflinching, undaunted perseverance. But this view of
genius is perhaps deficient; for without the higher powers of the
imagination and reason, no eminent success can be gained in many
subjects. These latter faculties, as well as the former, will have
been developed in man, partly through sexual selection,- that is,
through the contest of rival males, and partly through natural
selection, that is, from success in the general struggle for life; and
as in both cases the struggle will have been during maturity, the
characters gained will have been transmitted more fully to the male
than to the female offspring. It accords in a striking manner with
this view of the modification and re-inforcement of many of our mental
faculties by sexual selection, that, firstly, they notoriously undergo
a considerable change at puberty,*(2) and, secondly, that eunuchs
remain throughout life inferior in these same qualities. Thus, man has
ultimately become superior to woman. It is, indeed, fortunate that the
law of the equal transmission of characters to both sexes prevails
with mammals; otherwise, it is probable that man would have become
as superior in mental endowment to woman, as the peacock is in
ornamental plumage to the peahen.

  * J. Stuart Mill remarks (The Subjection of Women, 1869, p. 122),
"The things in which man most excels woman are those which require
most plodding, and long hammering at single thoughts." What is this
but energy and perseverance?
  *(2) Maudsley, Mind and Body, p. 31.

  It must be borne in mind that the tendency in characters acquired by
either sex late in life, to be transmitted to the same sex at the same
age, and of early acquired characters to be transmitted to both sexes,
are rules which, though general, do not always hold. If they always
held good, we might conclude (but I here exceed my proper bounds) that
the inherited effects of the early education of boys and girls would
be transmitted equally to both sexes; so that the present inequality
in mental power between the sexes would not be effaced by a similar
course of early training; nor can it have been caused by their
dissimilar early training. In order that woman should reach the same
standard as man, she ought, when nearly adult, to be trained to energy
and perseverance, and to have her reason and imagination exercised
to the highest point; and then she would probably transmit these
qualities chiefly to her adult daughters. All women, however, could
not be thus raised, unless during many generations those who
excelled in the above robust virtues were married, and produced
offspring in larger numbers than other women. As before remarked of
bodily strength, although men do not now fight for their wives, and
this form of selection has passed away, yet during manhood, they
generally undergo a severe struggle in order to maintain themselves
and their families; and this will tend to keep up or even increase
their mental powers, and, as a consequence, the present inequality
between the sexes.*

  * An observation by Vogt bears on this subject: he says, "It is a
remarkable circumstance, that the difference between the sexes, as
regards the cranial cavity, increases with the development of the
race, so that the male European excels much more the female, than
the negro the negress. Welcker confirms this statement of Huschke from
his measurements of negro and German skulls." But Vogt admits
(Lectures on Man, Eng. translat., 1864, p. 81) that more
observations are requisite on this point.

  Voice and Musical Powers.- In some species of Quadrumana there is
a great difference between the adult sexes, in the power of their
voices and in the development of the vocal organs; and man appears
to have inherited this difference from his early progenitors. His
vocal cords are about one-third longer than in woman, or than in boys;
and emasculation produces the same effect on him as on the lower
animals, for it "arrests that prominent growth of the thyroid, &c.,
which accompanies the elongation of the cords."* With respect to the
cause of this difference between the sexes, I have nothing to add to
the remarks in the last chapter on the probable effects of the
long-continued use of the vocal organs by the male under the
excitement of love, rage and jealousy. According to Sir Duncan
Gibb,*(2) the voice and the form of the larynx differ in the different
races of mankind; but with the Tartars, Chinese, &c., the voice of the
male is said not to differ so much from that of the female, as in most
other races.

  * Owen, Anatomy of Vertebrates, vol. iii., p. 603.
  *(2) Journal of the Anthropological Society, April, 1869, pp.
lvii. and lxvi.

  The capacity and love for singing or music, though not a sexual
character in man, must not here be passed over. Although the sounds
emitted by animals of all kinds serve many purposes, a strong case can
be made out, that the vocal organs were primarily used and perfected
in relation to the propagation of the species. Insects and some few
spiders are the lowest animals which voluntarily produce any sound;
and this is generally effected by the aid of beautifully constructed
stridulating organs, which are often confined to the males. The sounds
thus produced consist, I believe in all cases, of the same note,
repeated rhythmically;* and this is sometimes pleasing even to the
ears of man. The chief and, in some cases, exclusive purpose appears
to be either to call or charm the opposite sex.

  * Dr. Scudder, "Notes on Stridulation," in Proc. Boston Soc. of Nat.
Hist., vol. xi., April, 1868.

  The sounds produced by fishes are said in some cases to be made only
by the males during the breeding-season. All the air-breathing
Vertebrata, necessarily possess an apparatus for inhaling and
expelling air, with a pipe capable of being closed at one end. Hence
when the primeval members of this class were strongly excited and
their muscles violently contracted, purposeless sounds would almost
certainly have been produced; and these, if they proved in any way
serviceable, might readily have been modified or intensified by the
preservation of properly adapted variations. The lowest vertebrates
which breathe air are amphibians; and of these, frogs and toads
possess vocal organs, which are incessantly used during the
breeding-season, and which are often more highly developed in the male
than in the female. The male alone of the tortoise utters a noise, and
this only during the season of love. Male alligators roar or bellow
during the same season. Every one knows how much birds use their vocal
organs as a means of courtship; and some species likewise perform what
may be called instrumental music.
  In the class of mammals, with which we are here more particularly
concerned, the males of almost all the species use their voices during
the breeding-season much more than at any other time; and some are
absolutely mute excepting at this season. With other species both
sexes, or only the females, use their voices as a love-call.
Considering these facts, and that the vocal organs of some
quadrupeds are much more largely developed in the male than in the
female, either permanently or temporarily during the
breeding-season; and considering that in most of the lower classes the
sounds produced by the males, serve not only to call but to excite
or allure the female, it is a surprising fact that we have not as
yet any good evidence that these organs are used by male mammals to
charm the females. The American Mycetes caraya perhaps forms an
exception, as does the Hylobates agilis, an ape allied to man. This
gibbon has an extremely loud but musical voice. Mr. Waterhouse
states,* "It appeared to me that in ascending and descending the
scale, the intervals were always exactly half-tones; and I am sure
that the highest note was the exact octave to the lowest. The
quality of the notes is very musical; and I do not doubt that a good
violinist would be able to give a correct idea of the gibbon's
composition, excepting as regards its loudness." Mr. Waterhouse then
gives the notes. Professor Owen, who is a musician, confirms the
foregoing statement, and remarks, though erroneously, that this gibbon
"alone of brute mammals may be said to sing." It appears to be much
excited after its performance. Unfortunately, its habits have never
been closely observed in a state of nature; but from the analogy of
other animals, it is probable that it uses its musical powers more
especially during the season of courtship.

  * Given in W. C. L. Martin's General Introduction to Natural History
of Mamm. Animals, 1841, p. 432; Owen, Anatomy of Vertebrates, vol.
iii, p. 600.
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