Remarkable People

ID #5213

Raymond Dart, Anthropologist, South Africa.

Raymond Arthur Dart (1893–1988) was an anatomist and anthropologist. The son of a farmer and tradesman, he was married twice and had two children. He is best known for his discovery of a fossil of Australopithecus africanus -- an extinct hominid closely related to humans -- at Taung in the Northern Cape.

He was born in Brisbane and studied at Ipswich Grammar School, the University of Queensland, University of Sydney and University College, London, before becoming head of the department of anatomy at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg in 1922.

Dart's closest ally was Robert Broom whose discoveries (with Wilfred Clark) of other Australopithecines vindicated Dart. So much so that in 1947, Sir Arthur Keith said "...Dart was right, and I was wrong." Not all of Dart's ideas are accepted today. He also originated the killer-ape theory. Although other anthropologists, most notably Robert Ardrey, defended and further developed the theory, it is still widely questioned. The Institute for the Study of Man in Africa was established in 1956 at Wits in his honor.

Dart continued in his position as director of the School of Anatomy at Wits until 1958. There he worked with Phillip Tobias who continues his work at the Cradle of Humankind and other paleoanthropological sites. In 1959, an autobiographical account of Dart's discoveries -- Adventures with the Missing Link -- was published with Dennis Craig. In the book he acknowledges the role of his student, Josephine Jackson nee Salmons who brought him a baboon skull fossil found at a limestone deposit at Taung. She obtained the skull from E.G. Izod, a director of the Northern Lime Company, who kept the skull on a fireplace in his home.

At age 73 Dart began dividing his time between South Africa and The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP), an organization founded by Glenn Doman. He spent his last twenty years working with the IAHP, an organization that treats brain-injured children. RSARD

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Last update: 2014-03-30 20:21
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.4

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