Neanderthal Debased

  1. 39. Wilser, Ludwig (1850-1923). 
    Leben und Heimat des Urmenschen.  Leipzig: Verlag von Theod. Thomas, 1910. 

Ur in German means “rootstock,”  so Urmensch is equivalent to Haeckel’s Pithecanthropus, the original precursor to all living humans.  The illustration on the front cover, however, depicts not the Urmensch but Neanderthal man, and it is the first of many portrayals that will depict Neanderthal as stooped and deformed, a posture that the physical evidence has never supported.  This belittling of Neanderthal was continued by Marcellin Boule, the anthropologist who discovered the “Old man of La Chapelle”, and who also believed that Neanderthal was not human or pre-human, but sub-human.  Neanderthal’s image would not recover until the 1960s.