The Evolution Of A Cro-magnon Rar
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The March of Progress, originally titled The Road to Homo Sapiens, is an illustration that presents 25 million years of human evolution. It was created for the Early Man volume of the Life Nature Library, published in 1965, and drawn by the artist Rudolph Zallinger.
It has been viewed as a picture of the discredited theory, orthogenesis, that evolution is progressive. As such, it has been widely parodied and imitated to create images of progress of other kinds.
Contrary to appearances and some complaints, the original 1965 text of "The Road to Homo Sapiens" reveals an understanding of the fact that a linear presentation of a sequence of primate species, all in the direct line of human ancestors, would not be a correct interpretation. For example, the fourth of Zallinger's figures (Oreopithecus) is said to be "a likely side branch on man's family tree". Only the next figure (Ramapithecus) is described as "now thought by some experts to be the oldest of man's ancestors in a direct line" (something no longer considered likely). That implies that the first four primates are not to be considered actual human ancestors. Likewise, the seventh figure (Paranthropus) is said to be "an evolutionary dead end". In addition, the colored stripes, across the top of the figure, which indicate the age and duration of the various lineages clearly imply that there is no evidence of direct continuity between extinct and extant lineages and also, multiple lineages of the figured hominids occurred contemporaneously at several points in the history of the group.
The image has frequently been copied, modified, and parodied. It has been criticized as "unintentionally and wrongly" implying that "evolution is progressive". The image has been described as having a "visual logic" of linear progression. The Lancet called it "proverbial, much quoted or adapted, familiar to multitudes who have never seen its original version or heard of its maker". The image has become better-known than the science behind it.
The intelligent design advocate Jonathan Wells wrote in Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? (2002), "Although it is widely used to show that we are just animals, and that our very existence is a mere accident, the ultimate icon goes far beyond the evidence." The book likens a selection of evolution theory textbook topics to the cover illustration thus qualified.
Riley Black, writing for Scientific American, argues that the idea of a "march of progress", as depicted in the 1965 Time-Life illustration, dates back to the medieval great chain of being and the 19th century idea of the "missing link" in the fossil record. In her view, to understand life and evolution, "step one involves casting out types of imagery which constrain rather than enlighten." Writing in Wired, Black added that "There is perhaps no other illustration that is as immediately recognizable as representing evolution, but the tragedy of this is that it conveys a view of life that does not resemble our present understanding of life's history."
Thomas Henry Huxley's frontispiece to his 1863 book Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature was intended simply to compare the skeletons of apes and humans, but its unintentional left-to-right progressionist sequence has according to the historian Jennifer Tucker "become an iconic and instantly recognizable visual shorthand for evolution". 2b1af7f3a8