The Hunt for the Missing Link
Sasquatch. Bigfoot. The Abominable Snowman. Yeti. The Yowie, the Yeren, the Almas
Ape-men, cave men, wild men.
The Missing Link.
The idea of the missing link came about in the mid-19th century, with the rise of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. In 1859 Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, and it was radical, revolutionary, and highly contentious.
The problem, though, was that the mechanism by which it all worked wasn’t really understood yet, and there was a need for some hard evidence that would clinch his theory. If evolution really did work as Darwin described it; if, most controversially of all, humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and other apes all had a common ancestor, it should all be there in the fossil record.
There was a missing link in the theory.
This week I’m joined by Prof Virginia Richter to talk about the origins of our species.
Prof Virginia Richter is Professor and Chair of Modern English Literature, and the Director of the Department of English at Universität Bern, Switzerland.
She has published widely in the area of literature and science, including her book Literature After Darwin: Human Beasts in Western Fiction 1859-1939. More recently she has published on the beach in Anglophone literature and culture. You can read her full bio here
Works Mentioned & Referenced
Charles Darwin: On The Origin of Species
Archaeopteryx (the bird-like dinosaur)
Alfred Russel Wallace: The Malay Archipelago
The numerous ape-man / caveman tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs (*cough* buy my book)
Arthur Conan Doyle: “The Adventure of the Creeping Man“
Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
There is lots of useful info on the British Natural History Museum site, such as here
Franz Kafka: A Report to an Academy
Colin McAdam: A Beautiful Truth
All music by Blue Dot Sessions
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Edgar Rice Burroughs was the master of the apeman story. Check out the full episode on him here
Jekyll & Hyde is a story of anthropological anxiety. Listen to that episode here
Or for some more Arthur Conan Doyle, try this episode
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Missing Link Transcripts
Full transcripts will be available soon