[DART, Professor Raymond]. TOBIAS, Phillip V. and Ruebin PLOTKIN (special editors)
Dart Festschrift. Presented to Professor Raymond A. Dart by his Appreciative Past and Present Students [cover title]. In Honour of Professor Raymond Arthur Dart on his Retirement from the Chair of Anatomy of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. A Tribute by his Distinguished Colleagues from Many Corners of the Earth. Presented to Professor Dart by his Past and Present Students
Johannesburg, Medical School, University of the Witwatersrand, 1958.
Small quarto, [iv], 83-155 pages with a frontispiece portrait and some illustrations and figures.
Limp full leather slightly rubbed; essentially a fine copy.
Queensland-born Raymond Arthur Dart (1893-1988), anatomist and anthropologist, achieved lasting fame soon after his appointment in January 1923 as professor of anatomy, University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg. 'In November 1924 Dart was handed a fossil skull that had recently been discovered at Taungs (later Taung), 100 miles ... north of Kimberley. He extracted the fossil from the hard matrix and found that the skull was that of a child possessing a mixture of apish and human features. The child had held its head on a nearly vertical spinal column; its teeth, especially its little canines, were human-like. Although the brain was small, like that of an ape, its form seemed to be hominoid. Thinking that its blend of traits might characterise the supposed missing link between humans and non-human animals on the old notion of a chain of being, Dart named the species 'Australopithecus africanus' and published his findings in 'Nature' in February 1925. For over twenty years most scholars rejected Dart's claims. Critics asserted that the Taung child was on the wrong continent, was too young at death to make predictions about its likely adult form, and belonged to a geological epoch too recent.... [But in] time more fossilised hominid remains were found in Africa, and Dart's theory was generally accepted. The palaeontologist Robert Broom considered that Dart had made 'one of the greatest discoveries in the world's history'' (Australian Dictionary of Biography). The Festschrift originally appeared in the Medical School's journal The Leech (Volume XXVIII, Numbers 3, 4 and 5, November 1958, the Raymond A. Dart Commemorative Number). This is one of a specially bound edition limited to 100 copies; this is Number 9, and it is signed and dated (9 January 1959) by Professor Dart. Loosely inserted is the 'With the Compliments' slip of the Editorial Board of The Leech. This copy comes from the collection of Professor Andrew Abbie, one of the contributors ('The Original Australians' [pages 120-30, with 12 illustrations from photographs]); his large bookplate is on the front pastedown.