Favourite Quotes from Charles Darwin’s “The Descent of Man” (1871)

Human Evolution
Charles Darwin

“It is impossible not to regret bitterly, but whether wisely is another question, the rate at which man tends to increase, for this leads in barbarous tribes to infanticide and many other evils, and in civilised nations to abject poverty, celibacy, and to the late marriages of the prudent”

 p. 168 – Chapter 5 – Civilised Nations


“But we must not fall into the error of supposing that the early progenitors of the whole simian stock, including man, was identical with, or even closely resembled, any existing ape or monkey”

p. 182 – Chapter 6 – On the affinities and genealogy of Man


” At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked will not doubt be exterminated”

p. 183 – Chapter 6 – On the affinities and genealogy of Man


“At a still earlier period the progenitors of man must have been aquatic in their habitats for the morphology plainly tells us that our lungs consist of a modified swim bladder which once served as a float”

p.188 – Chapter 6 – On the affinities and genealogy of Man


“The world, it has often been remarked, appears as if it had long been preparing for the advent of Man, and this, in one sense is strictly true, for he owes his birth to a long line of progenitors. If any single link in this chain had never existed, man would not have been exactly what he now is. Unless we willfully close our eyes, we may with our present knowledge approximately recognise our parentage, nor need we feel ashamed of it”

p.193 – Chapter 6 – On the affinities and genealogy of Man


“Those who do not admit the principle of evolution, must look at species as separate creations, or as in some manner as distinct entities; and they must decide what forms of man they will consider as species by the analogy of the method commonly pursued in ranking other organic beings as species. But it is a hopeless endevour to decide this point until some definition of the term ‘species’ is generally accepted; and the definition must not include an indeterminate element such as an act of creation”

p. 205 – Chapter 7 – The Races of Man

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