Any serious research on sociology, politics, economics and history, man is the centre of study. Before becoming an authority on animal behavior, celebrated English zoologist Desmond Morris was one-time curator at the London Zoo. His well-documented observation and research studies on human and animal behavior became a best seller in 1967 when he authored a book aptly titled, “The Naked Ape”. Morris keenly noted that out of “the 193 species of monkeys and apes on the planet only man is not entirely covered in hair”! Thus the catchy phrase, ”Naked Ape” makes Man not one but a talking, thinking intelligent animal among primates. In the past hundred years Man was the focus of an interesting and controversial scientific search to identify who was his immediate ANCESTOR.
Paleontologists, anthropologists and writers went crazy looking for what they dubbed as “THE MISSING LINK”. There were several “pretenders” to the title but Piltdown and Neanderthal were the most prominent contenders. When Piltdown was voted out as fake, Neanderthal came under close scrutiny.
It was the leading pathologist at that time, Dr. Rudolf Virchow, who was invited to look into the fossil dated 110,000 and 35,000 years old. It was his highly valued opinion that put the “the burden of proof” in support of the contention that the fossils purported to be of the Neanderthal were indeed of human remains and NOT of an ape. It strengthened the claim by a French scientist, Gabriel de Mortellet, that the Neanderthal is Man’s immediate COUSIN!
Dr. Virchow was one of the scientists and colleagues introduced to Rizal by Dr. Blumentritt. Upon receiving the news of Rizal’s execution in Bagumbayan (Luneta) in 1896, Virchow used his position, influence and reputation to deliver the historic obituary during the annual general meeting of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Pre-history. It was delivered in Berlin, Germany in 1897.
Reading the Rizal-Blumentritt letters shows how much Rizal admired the German people and their culture. It is not surprising to find out why the Spanish friars spread rumors that Rizal was a German spy!
In the last paragraph, you will be impressed by Virchow’s words in the obituary on what Rizal’s death meant to the Germans.
“We are losing in Rizal not only a faithful friend of Germany and German scholarship but also the only man with sufficient knowledge and resolution to open a way for modern thought into that far-off island world.”
Full text of the obituary can be found at the Knights of Rizal Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter.
A nice weekend to everyone!
Jose Sison Luzadas, KGOR, Scarborough Chapter, CANADA