One of the most singular of them, the Hamadryas, extends its range into Arabia; while another, the Black Baboon, is an inhabitant of the Philippine Isles. With the baboons we close our list of the Monkeys of the Old World; but, in order to complete the account of these quadruped mammalia, it is necessary to find a place for those strange creatures usually known as Lemurs.
The connexion, however, between the West Indies and Madagascar must surely have been at a time when the great lemurine group was absent; for it is difficult to understand the spread of such a form as Solenodon, and at the same time the non-extension of the active lemurs, or their utter extirpation, in such a congenial locality as the West Indian Archipelago.
Nearly over the musician's head swung a hammock from which hung a leg; other hammocks hanging in the semi-gloom called up suggestions of lemurs and arboreal bats.
The ape-man fossil found in the tertiary strata of the island of Java in 1891 by the Dutch surgeon Dr. Eugene Dubois, and named Pithecanthropus erectus, may have been a direct descendant of the American tribe of primitive lemurs, though this is only a conjecture. Not all the strange beasts which have left their remains in our "bad lands" are represented by living descendants.
We cannot draw such an inference, because the highest and most civilised races of Man exceed in the average of their cranial capacity the lowest races, the European brain, for example, being larger than that of the negro, and somewhat more convoluted and less symmetrical, and those apes, on the other hand, which approach nearest to Man in the form and volume of their brain being more intelligent than the Lemurs, or still lower divisions of the mammalia, such as the Rodents and Marsupials, which have smaller brains.
"The number of teeth in the Gorilla and all the Old World monkeys, except the lemurs, is thirty-two, the same as in Man, and the general pattern of their crowns the same. But besides other distinctions, the canines in all but Man project in the upper or lower jaws almost like tusks.
His talk playfully exalting the familiar objects, put the companion at once into an acquaintance with his Lars and Lemurs, and it was very pleasant to learn what was predestined to be a pretty mythology. Few were the objects and lonely the man, "not a person to speak to within sixteen miles except the minister of Dunscore"; so that books inevitably made his topics.
Some of these were almost as big as men, such as the diluvial lemurogonon Megaladapis of Madagascar. It has been beyond question for some time now that the apes approach nearest to man in every respect of all the animals. Just as the lowest apes come close to the lemurs, so the highest come next to man.
In the case of the apes and lemurs, while a similar effect has taken place, an interesting difference appears, due to the difference in conditions. In these animals the fore limbs are not freed from duty as organs of locomotion. In many cases, on the contrary, they have an extra duty put upon them, with the result that they have grown longer instead of shorter.
"There no longer exists," he says, "a 'missing link. The phyletic continuity of the primate stem, from the oldest lemurs down to man himself, is an historical fact." It should, perhaps, be added that the force of this rather startling conclusion rests by no means exclusively upon the finding of pithecanthropus and the other fossils, nor indeed upon any paleontological evidence whatever.