Marching up the wrong tree | Twilight Beasts

“My father was not really keen on this portrayal, because he was already very aware that [hominin] evolution was more likely akin to the branching of a tree rather than a straight, linear march, so he resisted this depiction. The editor won out, however, and the iconic image was born.”

A fascinating quote about Rudolph Zallinger's iconic (and problematic) March of Progress representation of hominin evolution. Once again, it feels like ignoring the experts has caused decades of issues and (slightly ironically, given the infamous title) set back human progress in subtle ways. As the article puts it:

This one decision has created perhaps the biggest, most dangerous,
misunderstanding of evolution that has ever existed. In all its
simplicity, it shows progress. An improvement from what came before. The
idea that animals get better as they evolve is wrong. Every animal and
plant alive today is just as evolved as each other. None is more ‘primitive’. None is ‘simple’. And certainly none are inferior to others.

All that, just to give a scientific book a little more va va voom 🤦‍♂️

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  • Murray Adcock.
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