- Raymond Dart
Infobox Scientist |name =Raymond Dart
caption =Raymond Dart with Taung skull
February 4 1893
November 22 1988
field = anthropologist
Raymond Dart (
February 4 1893– November 22 1988) was an Australian anatomistand anthropologist best known for his discovery in 1924 of a fossil of Australopithecus(extinct hominids closely related to humans) at Taungin Northwestern South Africa. The son of a farmer and tradesman, he was married twice and had two children.
He was born in
Toowong, Queensland, Australia and studied at Ipswich Grammar School, the University of Queensland, University of Sydneyand University College, London, before taking a position as head of the newly established department of anatomyat the University of Witwatersrandin Johannesburg, South Africain 1922.
In 1924, a
limestone quarryowner at Taungshipped Dart a box of fossiliferous rock. Digging around in it, Dart found an endocranial cast, and then its matching fossil skullpiece. Dart examined this Taung Childfossil, as it came to be known, and pronounced it to be a new species, " Australopithecus africanus". Dart postulated his new find to be a missing link between apes and humans because of its small brainsize, but relatively human-like dentitionand a probable upright posture.
Dart's discovery and Dart himself were initially heavily criticized by the eminent anthropologists of the day, most notably
Sir Arthur Keithwho claimed the Taung Child to be nothing other than a juvenile gorilla. Because the specimen was indeed a juvenile, there was a lot of room for interpretation, and because African origins for mankind and the development of bipedalismbefore a human-like brain were both inconsistent with the prevailing evolutionary notions of the time, Dart and his Child became the butt of many attacks.
Vindication and disagreement
Dart's closest ally was
Robert Broomwhose discoveries of further australopithecines (as well as Wilfrid Le Gros Clark's support) eventually vindicated Dart. So much so that in 1947, Sir Arthur Keith said "...Dart was right, and I was wrong."
Not all of Dart's ideas are accepted today. His assertion that
gazellelong-bones found in association with Australopithecus africanuswere used as tools is unproven and largely dismissed.Fact|date=October 2007 Dart also originated the killer ape theory. Although some other anthropologists, notably Robert Ardrey, defended and further developed the theory, it is still widely questioned.Fact|date=October 2007
Institute for the Study of Man in Africawas established in 1956 at Witwatersrand in his honor.cite web |url= http://www.wits.ac.za/isma/ |title= Objectives & Vision, Background Information |author= Institute for the Study of Man in Africa |work= ISMA website |quote= ]
Dart continued in his position as director of the School of Anatomy at
University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, until 1958. There he worked with Phillip Tobias, who continues his work in the study of the Cradle of Humankindand other paleoanthropological sites. In 1959, an autobiographical account of Dart's discovery was published, " Adventures with the Missing Link."
At the age of 73, Dart began dividing his time between South Africa and
The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential(IAHP), an organization founded by Glenn Doman. Dart spent much of the next twenty years working with the IAHP, an organization that treats brain injured children. [Review by Jean Clark of "Dart: Man of Science and Grit" by Frances Wheelhouse and Kathaleen S. Smithford. Review was published in STATNews vol. 6, issue 11, September 2003.http://www.mouritz.co.uk/8.33.22.Wheelhouse.Dart.html]
* Dart R.A. (1925): [http://www.nature.com/nature/ancestor/pdf/115195.pdf Australopithecus africanus: the man-ape of South Africa] . "Nature", 115:195-9 (the original paper communicating the Taung finding, in PDF format).
* Dart, R.A. (1953): "The Predatory Transition from Ape to Man." "International Anthropological and Linguistic Review," 1, pp. 201-217.
* Dart, Raymond and Craig, Dennis (1959): "Adventures with the Missing Link". New York:
Harper & Brothers( autobiography).
* Fagan, Brian. "The Passion of Raymond Dart." Archaeology v. 42 (May-June 1989): p. 18.
* Johanson, Donald & Maitland Edey. "Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind". New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990 ISBN 0-671-25036-1
* Alexander Murray, ed. (1996): "Skill and Poise: Articles on skill, poise and the F. M.
Alexander Technique." Collection of Raymond Dart's papers. Hardcover, 192+xiv pages, b/w illustrations, 234 x 156 mm, index, UK, STAT Books.
List of fossil sites"(with link directory)"
List of hominina fossils"(with images)"
* [http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/284158_brain.html Essay by C.K. Brain, "Raymond Dart and our African origins," accompanying the reprint of Raymond Dart's 1925 "Nature" article in "A Century of Nature: Twenty-One Discoveries that Changed Science and the World", Laura Garwin and Tim Lincoln, eds.]
* [http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/abcde/dart_raymond.html Biography of Raymond Dart] on
Minnesota State University, MankatoEMuseum website
* [http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/rdart.html Biography of Raymond Dart] in the
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