A drawing of the finds of Dubois: the molar, the thighbone and the skull.

A Queste for evidence of Darwin

Even as a child, Eugène Dubois (1858-1940) knows he wants to proof Darwin right. Not by constructing more hypotheses, but by actually showing that there is a species between human and ape. The only thing he thinks he needs is some fossilized remains.

He reads anything he can lay hands on. At university, he gets up around three or four every day to study. At nine, his classes start and when they finish at five he plunges into a busy social life. For years on end.

After all these years of research he knows (!) that he may find his fossils in the Dutch Indies. He turns down a post as professor in Amsterdam and leaves for the Tropics.

It takes him over five years to get his evidence. From among the thousands of fossils he finds, he resolutely picks out a molar, a thighbone, and a skull who are supposed to have been part of the skeleton of a species between human and ape: the homo erectus. He walks erect like humans, but has a smaller brain.

He has succeeded at his mission. Of all places around the world, he has picked the right one. He recognized the relevant fossils among thousands of them.

He returns to Holland, convinced he will be received with jubilations. He meets with a nasty disappointment: his colleagues are skeptical, and his belief only gathers followers very slowly.

Pat Shipman’s biography portrays a serious workaholic who dedicates his life to science and has an insatiable urge for recognition and appreciation of his achievements.


Pat Shipman




Trivia: The writer was supported by specialized scientists.



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