Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Discussion of a Paper on a Neanderthal Man Skull
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Third party rendering of words Wallace offered in discussion of
a paper on a Neanderthal Man skull read by C. Carter Blake at the Anthropological Society
meeting of 16 February 1864, and printed on p. clvi of Volume Two of the Society's Journal
series. To link directly to this page, connect with:
Mr. Alfred R. Wallace said he had examined the extensive series of crania in the Museum at
Oxford, where there are crania of New Zealanders, of Australians, the natives of New Guinea,
and of other aboriginal tribes, for the purpose of observing if there were any corresponding
peculiarities. He was enabled to discover that some of the Australian crania agreed with the
Neanderthal skull, in general shape, in the slanting forehead, the orbital ridges, and in other
particulars, and the impression on his mind was that they were exactly of the same type. But that
was not, however, the usual form of Australian skulls, for there were others very different. The
majority of them, indeed, were totally different, whilst there were others that had an intermediate
form. The skulls of the Van Dieman's Land natives also approached in general form to the
Neanderthal skull. In some burial grounds in this country there are occasionally to be found
skulls which nearly approximate to those of Australians. These facts showed how difficult it is to
draw general results from agreements in the forms of different crania. He felt satisfied that there
was no reason to believe that the Neanderthal skull belonged to any other than a savage race of
man in a low state of development, and that it was not the skull of an idiot, but of a common man
of the same race.
Mr. Bouverie Pusey said the speech of Mr. Wallace suggested the question whether the
Australian skulls he examined at Oxford belonged to natives of the same tribe, or whether they
were the skulls of different tribes?
Mr. Wallace said he was unable to answer the question.
Sir Charles Nicholson observed that his own experience and recollection confirmed Mr.
Wallace's statement respecting the resemblance of the skull in question to those of some skulls
of Australians. It reminded him strongly of skulls he had seen in Australia, though there were
some peculiarities in it . . .
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