We still live in the long shadow of Man-the-Hunter: a midcentury theory of human origins soaked in strife and violence.
By describing how and why humans had become the dominant species on the planet, these scientists saw themselves as rescuing human origins from the mists of time, and investing evolutionary histories with righteous authority. Anthropologists and biologists wrote not only for each other but especially for scientifically untrained readers. Their biological vision of a singular human nature resonated with a progressive vision of human history. Just look at how far humans had come from their bestial origins, the scientists reasoned, and imagine the bright future that lay ahead if nations and cultures could work together as human ancestors had in the past. Claims about the nature of human beings echoed long-standing theological and philosophical debates but promised new answers through the power of science.