Literature Study GuidesThe Descent Of Man

The Descent of Man | Study Guide

Charles Darwin

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Course Hero. "The Descent of Man Study Guide." January 4, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2023.


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Charles Darwin

Year Published





Nature, Science

At a Glance

When Darwin published his groundbreaking work on evolution On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859), he evaded somewhat the topic of human evolution, or the theory that humankind descended from earlier, prehistoric beings by means of natural selection. Yet the discussion of the topic that ensued prompted Darwin to release The Descent of Man 12 years later, a text that explicitly explores how the human species was directly descended from a lower form of animal. Darwin lays out a strong argument for humans' origins—physically and mentally—from the same initial source as monkeys, apes, dogs, horses, and other mammals. He relied on years of his own research as well as countless studies done by other naturalists to try to prove or disprove his theory of evolution. Darwin's exacting and explicit scientific rationale for humans' descent from a lower form served as a contradiction of creation by intelligent design, or the work of a supreme being. Much of Darwin's work in The Descent of Man can be connected directly to innovations in science, biology, and genetics, and to the world's understanding of how species continue to evolve.

About the Title

The Descent of Man is Darwin's continued exploration of humankind's origins as a species. In it he makes the case for humankind's direct physiological and social descent from an earlier animal that is closely related to chimpanzees and other apes.


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