Popular iconography of progressive evolution

Perhaps the most widespread image of evolution in the popular press is the succession of stoop-shouldered primates leading progressively to an upright modern human at the end of the series. Author and evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould (d.2002) calls this the Icon of Progress, which presents evolution as goal-oriented, and notes that it occurs in all human societies and has been employed for many purposes. Note for example that successive figures are more and more light-skinned. The above samples are from his collection in "Wonderful Life."

Text material © 2005 by Steven M. Carr