Baboons, Mantells and Buffons

The 18th century French naturalist, the great Comte de Buffon, is quoted as describing the native Americans as having no beard or body hair and no ardour for the female; their reproductive organs small and feeble.

In his A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson remarks:

Buffon’s observations found surprisingly eager support among other writers, especially those whose conclusions were not complicated by actual familiarity with the country.

And almost in the same breath but this time describing the country doctor and amateur palaeontologist, Gideon Algernon Mantell:

A lanky assemblage of shortcomings – he was vain, self-absorbed, priggish, neglectful of his family…

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