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Roger Fenton 
Skeleton of Man and of the Male Gorilla (Troglodytes Gorilla) 
1855 (ca) 
  
Albumen-silver photograph mounted on printed card 
36.5 x 28 cm 
  
Victoria and Albert Museum 
Museum Number: 40:849 
  
 
LL/36314 
  
When this photograph was taken, Roger Fenton was the official photographer at the British Museum. (The British Museum then held the collections that now comprise the Natural History Museum.) The human skeleton depicted is of no special significance, apart from the fact that it is probably of a European. The gorilla, however, shows evidence of severe trauma to its left arm - a bite from a lion to the lower part of its left humerus. Gorillas do not spend much time 'standing' upright because it takes muscle energy for them to do so. Thus, the supposedly 'neutral' presentation of a gorilla skeleton is in fact the presentation of an idea: 'a gorilla standing is not too different from a human standing'. 
 
 
  
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