The Lowest Animal

Robin Trowbridge
Period 5
The Lowest Animal
      Mark Twain wrote an essay called, “The Lowest Animal” in 1896. The essay was eventually published into a collection called Letters from the Earth in 1962. His essay talks about whether humans or animals are considered the lowest animal. Darwin’s theory, “Darwinian Theory of the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals”, states that man evolved from lower animals, while Twain’s theory, “The Descent of Man from the Higher Animals”, states that man is moving down on the evolutionary scale. The scientific method as explained by Twain to compare and contrast men and animals is, “subjecting every postulate that was presented to the crucial test of experiment, then it is either adopted or rejected according to the result, then it is verified and subjected at each step in the course.”
      Twain did many experiments to try and prove his theory of creation. His first he did with man and an anaconda. He put the anaconda in a cage with 7 young calves, and “man had organized a buffalo hunt on our Great Plains.” According to this experiment man killed many bison but only ate part of one, they left the rest to rot. The anaconda on the other hand, immediately killed a calf, ate it, and then sat back in satisfaction, while leaving the other 6 alone. Twain concluded that man would destroy things they do not need, while the anaconda only destroyed what he needed. He also concluded that man descended from the anaconda and had lost a lot in the transition.
      Another experiment that Twain performed would conclude whether man or animals are cruel. According to Twain, man is, “the only one that harbors insults and injuries, then broods over them and waits for a chance offer to take revenge.” Animals, “keep harem, but it is by consent of their concubines, therefore no wrong is done.” He concluded that man is the cruel one and not the animal.
      In this next experiment, Twain puts men in a cage and animals in another, to see...