Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Skeleton of a Human and a Gorilla

Skeleton of a human and a gorilla, displayed side by side (Roger Fenton, ca. 1860, Wellcome Library, London)

"When this photograph was taken, Roger Fenton was the official photographer at the British Museum  (the British Museum then held the collections that now comprise the Natural History Museum).

The human skeleton depicted is of no special significance, apart from the fact that it is probably of a European. The gorilla, however, shows evidence of severe trauma to its left arm - a bite from a lion to the lower part of its left humerus. Gorillas do not spend much time ‘standing’ upright because it takes muscle energy for them to do so. Thus, the supposedly ‘neutral’ presentation of a gorilla skeleton is in fact the presentation of an idea: ‘a gorilla standing is not too different from a human standing’" (source).

next episode: Zinaida


  1. Eeek!! Did you have Halloween in mind? Splendid skeletons and no wonder the gorilla looks so downcast with a hole in his arm.

  2. Interesting that Darwin was active at the time of this photograph.


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