JAN 18, 2015  

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march of progress

The March of Progress, arguably the world's most famous comic, drawn by natural history painter and muralist Rudolph Zallinger (19191995), from which the main part is reproduced above, was included in a foldout 4-pages section entitled The Road to Homo Sapiens in the anthropologist Clark Howell's book Early Man (Time-Life Books,1965). It depicts 15 human evolutionary forebears lined up as if marching in a parade from left to right, 20 million years of human evolution. The image has frequently been copied, modified and parodied, and has been the subject of controversy.

Te perception and dating of evolution stages in this 50 years old graphic may no longer reflect current scientific opinion, but The March of Progress is a canonical representation of evolution reducing the evolution of man to a linear sequence, so powerful and emotional to viewers, however wrong. The linear advance goes beyond iconography to the definition of evolution: the word itself becomes a synonym for progress. And no wonder, it has been ridiculed, see left and below.


Krešimir J. Adamić