'Hurrah for the missing link!': A history of apes, ancestors and a crucial piece of evidence

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  • Peter C. Kjærgaard
    Peter C. KjærgaardDenmark
  • Department of the History of Ideas
In the nineteenth century the idea of a ‘missing link’ connecting humans with the rest of the animal kingdom was eagerly embraced by professional scientists and popularizers. After the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, many tied the idea and subsequent search for a crucial piece of evidence to Darwin and his formulation of the theory of evolution by natural selection. This article demonstrates that the expression was widely used and that the framework for discussions about human’s relation to the apes and gaps in the fossil record were well in place and widely debated long before Origin of Species became the standard reference for discussing human evolution. In the second half of the century the missing link gradually became the ultimate prize in palaeoanthropology and grew into one of the most powerful, celebrated and criticized icons of human evolution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRoyal Society of London. Notes and Records
Volume65
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)83-98
ISSN0035-9149
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

    Keywords

  • anthropology, Charles Darwin, evolution, human origins, missing link, nineteenth century

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

Activities

ID: 22823631