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Letter 7170

Mivart, St G. J. to Darwin, C. R.

22 Apr 1870


Is not prepared to express an opinion on man’s origin. On pure anatomical grounds he would form a family of the higher division of the primates, but if man’s intellectual, moral, and religious nature is considered, then “he differs more from an Anthropoid Ape than such an Ape differs from a lump of granite”.


7 North Bank | N.W.

April 22d— 1870.

My dear Sir,

I have really expressed no opinion as to Man’s origin nor am Iprepared to do so at this moment. The diagram in the Pro. Z. Soc.expresses what I believe to be the degree of resemblance as regardsthe spinal column only. The diagram in the Phil. Trans. expresseswhat I believe to be the degree of resemblance as regards the appendicularskeleton only.f1

As regards the skull the divergence would be greater than thatof the appendicular skeleton in some respects—less in others & nothaving gone into the question thoroughly I am not able to sketcha diagram on that basis. But if I combined all these we should stillhave only considered the skeleton & were I to follow this up by acareful comparison of all the organs in all forms we should stillonly have considered the dead body.

Now I believe fully that this alone being taken into account—&assuming that zoological classification should be Anatomical—Manforms only a family of the higher division of the Primates. Butif we introduce into the consideration his intellectual, moral &religious nature I am convinced he differs more from an AnthropoidApe than such an Ape differs from a lump of granite.

As to the nostrils of the Lemuroidea I do not recollect noticingany exceptional form but it was not a point we went into.f2

Buchner’s undifferentiated Ape is unknown to me but I have beenmonths absent & since my return have not looked up any mattersconnected with Primates other than human.f3

Surely such a beast will be found someday—if he has not been foundalready.

Regretting much that I cannot reply more satisfactorily to yourquestions & trusting that a visit from you is a pleasure postponedonly for a little, I remain, with best regards & wishes | Your’s very sincerely | St Geo. Mivart.

DAR 171: 186



Mivart refers to his paper on the axial skeleton of primates in theProceedings of the Zoological Society of London (Mivart 1865) and tohis paper ‘On the appendicular skeleton of the primates’ in thePhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (Mivart1867). There are tree diagrams in Mivart 1865, p. 592, andMivart 1867a, p. 425, showing the affinities between the axial andappendicular skeletons of the various groups. The axial skeleton isthe spinal column; the appendicular skeleton is the skeleton of thelimbs, not including the spinal column.
See letter from St G. J. Mivart, 21 April [1870] and n. 5.
See letter from St G. J. Mivart, 21 April [1870] and n. 6. Mivartrefers to Ludwig Büchner.
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