Anthropologist Raymond Dart (1893–1988) is best known for a skull found on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in 1924. He claimed it was part-human and part-ape, i.e. a ‘man-ape’1  and so the evolutionary ancestor of man.

Raymond was the fifth of nine children. He had made a somewhat hazardous entry into the world, upstairs in a house in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong, Australia, in 1893, during the Brisbane River flood season. The waters had risen so high that the attending midwife had to tie the newborn baby and his mother to a mattress and float them out of a second-storey window to neighbours waiting in a rowboat!2

The Dart family lived on a cattle farm, where all had their tasks. One brother recalled, ‘Ray wasn’t keen on ploughing—he’d rather dig with a shovel than harness a horse.’ One of Raymond’s chores was cleaning out the fowl houses. One day his brothers returned from the field to find this work neglected because he had spent his time dissecting a rooster. He later said, ‘I had no desire to emulate [my parents] in pioneering achievements. … Having little physical dexterity, I inherited the opportunity and passion for learning and books … .’4

Christian upbringing

the Taung child skullThe Taung child skull (Australopithecus africanus)

One good thing he received from his parents was an upbringing in the Christian faith. His father, Samuel, a Baptist, was elected general visiting superintendent of the Methodist Sunday Schools circuit,5 and he brought up his family to study the Ten Commandments and all the Christian precepts of the New Testament. Raymond was baptized in the new local German Baptist Church and received into membership there in 1907. His biographers tell us: ‘Once grown up, Raymond always carried two Bibles around with him, one printed in English, the other in German. He could, if challenged, recite chapter and verse from Scripture in either language.’7

Concerning his youthful Christian beliefs, Dart wrote: ‘I was … raised in a devout Methodist and Baptist family environment, sharing gladly also the fundamentalist philosophy of Plymouth Brethren family friends.’ His brother, Harold, tells us that Raymond ‘intended to become a medical missionary in China’, an ambition which he often expressed to fellow students during his school years.10….

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