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As "Darwinism" became widely accepted in the 1870s, good-natured caricatures of him with an ape or monkey body symbolised evolution.
As "Darwinism" became widely accepted in the 1870s, good-natured caricatures of him with an ape or monkey body symbolised evolution.

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A caveman is a popular stock character based upon stereotyped concepts of the way in which early prehistoric humans or homininans may have looked and behaved. The term is sometimes used colloquially to refer to the Neanderthals or Cro-Magnon (i.e., Homo sapiens of the Paleolithic era). The term has been discouraged in serious use, due to its inaccuracy and dependence on certain misconceptions about early humans.



Popular conceptions of cavemen can be seen as reflecting either the brutal savage image of the 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who famously held that the life of the human being without civilization was "...poore, nasty, brutish and short"; or, on the other hand, the noble savage vision of uncivilized man, popularly associated with Rousseau.

Caveman-like Heraldic "wild men" were found in European iconography for hundreds of years. During the Middle Ages, these creatures were generally depicted in art and literature as bearded and covered in hair, and often wielding clubs and dwelling in caves. While wild men were always depicted as living outside of civilization, there was an ongoing debate as to whether they were human or animal.

Cavemen are portrayed as wearing butty animal hides, armed with rocks or cattle bone clubs, unintelligent, and aggressive. Cavemen are often shown as living in caves, possibly because that is where the preponderance of ritual paintings and artifacts have been found. Although it is probable that Neanderthals and early humans lived elsewhere as well as in caves, artifacts proving this would have been destroyed over millennia, while that which had been left in caves survived to be discovered. Nevertheless, expressions such as "living in a cave" have become cultural metaphors for a modern human who supposedly displays traits of brutishness or extreme ignorance. See also troglodyte.


In fiction, especially as pure entertainment or satire, cavemen are sometimes depicted as living contemporaneously with dinosaurs, a situation contradicted by archaeological and paleontological evidence which shows that non-avian dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, at which time true primates had not yet appeared.In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1912) ape-men are depicted in a fight with modern humans. Edgar Rice Burroughs adapted this idea for The Land That Time Forgot (1915).

Cavemen movies

A genre of caveman movies emerged, typified by D. W. Griffith's Man's Genesis (1912); they inspired Charles Chaplin's satiric take, in His Prehistoric Past (1914) as well as Brute Force (1914), The Cave Man (1912), and later Cave Man (1934). From the descriptions, Griffith's characters can't talk (handy for a silent film), and use sticks and stones for weapons, while the hero of Cave Man is a Tarzan-like figure who fights dinosaurs.

List of films


In popular culture, the comic strips B.C., Alley Oop and occasionally The Far Side and Gogs portray "cavemen" in that way. (Larson, in his The Prehistory of the Far Side, stated he once felt that he needed to confess his cartooning sins in this regard: 'O Father, I Have Portrayed Primitive Man and Dinosaurs In The Same Cartoon'." The animated television series "The Flintstones", a spoof on family sitcoms, portrays the Flintstones not in caves, but in 1950s–1960s ranch-style homes that suggested caves and had stone fittings.


Stereotypical cavemen are also often featured in advertising, including advertisements for Minute Maid. More recently, GEICO launched a series of television commercials and attempts at viral marketing, collectively known as the GEICO Cavemen advertising campaign, where GEICO announcers are repeatedly denounced by modern cavemen for perpetuating a stereotype of unintelligent, backward cavemen. The GEICO advertisements spawned a short-lived TV series called Cavemen.


Caveman characters


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Caveman" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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