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February 5: Arthur Keith (1866)

It was on this date, February 5, 1866, that Scottish anatomist and physical anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith was born in Aberdeen. After earning a Bachelor of Medicine Degree from the University of Aberdeen in 1888, Keith traveled as a physician on a gold mining trip to Siam (now Thailand), where he did his first field dissections and studies of primate anatomy. A prominent evolutionist in his time, Keith was one of many experts, lacking the tool of radiocarbon dating (not invented until the year of his death) taken in by the Piltdown fossil hoax. But his defense of Darwinism and his research and publication on the subject of primate and human evolution, put him in the front rank of his peers. Keith once said, “This world of ours has been constructed like a superbly written novel: we pursue the tale with avidity, hoping to discover the plot.”

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Originally published February 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

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