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john hawks weblog

paleoanthropology, genetics and evolution

Photo Credit: Chimpanzees at Gombe, by Gill Penney CC-BY 2.0

A look at public perception of Darwinism, circa 1930

British Pathé, the famous newsreel producer, has released its catalog of film content to YouTube. There’s not a rich backlog of film footage pertinent to paleoanthropology there, but I did find this 3-minute-long clip, “Evolution - The Other Side Of It”.

The idea is that Darwinism has two sides – a creationist may dislike the idea that we came from apes, but the apes may feel the same way about us!

It’s a silent short with various captive primates dressed in human clothing. An early stage of the kind of exploitative cinema treatments of primates that have become less and less acceptable over the years. And yet, from the standpoint of its time in 1930, it may have been one of the only ways older cinemagoers would ever have encountered the idea of evolution.