May 3, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Passings: Howell Dies, of Time-Life Book Fame

Nature contained an obituary for F. Clark Howell, paleoanthropologist (1925-2007).  He knew and worked with most of the 20th century fossil-man hunters from Raymond Dart to the Leakeys.  Students will probably remember the Time-Life series he authored, Early Man, with its fold-out panorama by illustrator Jay Matternes of the march from furry monkey to naked man, an icon of evolution that has been imitated and parodied ever since.

The power of pictorial propaganda cannot be understated.  Were you influenced as a child by those pictures of the rise of humans from the apes?  Most of the data on which those drawings depend (ditto for the other dioramas in the book) have been discredited.  Yet the damage is done; the propaganda parade marches on.
    Our favorite parodies: the computer, woman stasis, woman on top, obesity, cake-eater, levitation, direction of modern culture, science made stupid and big daddy.  Rest in peace, Dr. Howell, as we howl like monkeys.

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Categories: Early Man, Media

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