In this chapter we propose again to visit the Hunterian Museum in London to see those specimens which illustrate the growth and size of the human body. We wish especially to ascertain when and how man came to have a stature which varies between five and six feet, or to use the more convenient metric system, between 1,500 and 1,800 millimetres.

If we cross Waterloo Bridge in the throng of city workers hurrying to business, and thread our way to Lincoln's Inn Fields in the press of morning traffic, we have ample opportunity for seeing how varied the human body is in size, in shape, and in carriage. If we were to measure a thousand men as they pass by we should find that rather more than 500 of them had a stature between 5 ft. 5 1/2 in. and 5 ft. 9 1/2 in.; we may accept the height of the average man as 5 ft. 7 1/2 in. (1,715 mm.). In the thousand men we should probably find ten who were under 5 ft. (1,525 mm.), and three or four who were over 6 ft. We observe, too, that the women are slighter in build and shorter in stature. On the average their stature falls 4 1/2 in. below that of men ; more than half of them are between 5 ft. 1 in. and 5 ft. 5 in. The growth of women is not regulated by the same laws that hold good for men. If we could follow these busy people to their offices and watch them seated at their desks we should be surprised to see that some who were apparently tall as they walked along appear to be of average height when seated ; others who in the street seemed of short stature now appear to be of an average height. It is evident that stature depends on two distinct factors, the length of the lower limbs, and the length of the trunk or body. The sitting height gives us the height of the body. When a man or woman who are of the same height, sit down, it is usually the case that the woman appears the taller, because her body is proportionally longer than that of the man, while her lower limbs are relatively shorter.

Arriving at the museum we make our way to the various rooms which will provide us with evidence as to when mankind came by its present size of body. Our search lies first among the specimens which represent the bones of men who lived in Europe when its northern half, including the greater part of Britain, lay under ice. How long ago that may be cannot be accurately estimated, but most geologists are agreed that the bones we are now looking at belonged to men who lived 100,000 years ago, or even more. When we compare these bones of fossil men with our own we see that their owners were stouter made but not so tall as we are. The famous Neanderthal man, whose bones were discovered in 1857 at Neanderthal in Germany, stood about five feet four inches in height. Indeed all the examples which have been discovered of the Neanderthal type of man show us that ancient man was far from being the giant which fable and tradition have led us to expect. Indeed we know of no tall men in Europe until the glacial period was drawing to a close. The Cro-Magnon race then appears in France; many of the men of that race stood six feet high ; but the opposite sex appear to have been only a little taller than modern women. The very earliest form of man yet discovered —the fossil man of Java, usually named Pithecanthropus—was about five feet six inches high. The evidence so far leads us to believe that our present stature and size of body are part of an ancient inheritance, one which has not been altered by the passage of hundreds of thousands of years.