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This print was published in 1863 in 'Man's Place in Nature', volume 7 from a collection of essays by Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 - 1895). Huxley was a self-taught anatomist. At 21 he joined HMS Rattlesnake, as an assistant surgeon, for a journey around Australia and New Guinea. He collected and studied marine invertebrates and his research attracted the attention of other scientists. His work on dinosaur and bird anatomy gave the initial clues that birds descended from dinosaurs.

Huxley defended Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection and in June 1860 he took part in a public debate on evolution with Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. The Bishop asked Huxley whether he was 'descended from an ape on his grandfather's side of the family' and Huxley replied that he was not ashamed of his ancestry but 'would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth'.

Huxley continued to study human evolution and in 1863 published a study showing the brains of apes and humans were fundamentally similar in detail and that they shares a common ancestor.

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