A joke about the evolution of technology
A stone age man using stones and a modern man using a phone
Part of the humor behind the cartoon is that people haven’t changed much, despite the advanced of technology
Cartoon drawn: 2013
Cartoon reference number: a651
Cartoon about the saying “The early bird catches the worm”
The joke is that the ‘early bird’ is literally an early bird in evolutionary terms, such as an archaeopteryx.
A cartoon about evolution, prehistoric creatures.
sayings and proverbs
A cartoon about genetic engineering or genetic manipulation
The illustration shows the results of scientists modifying the genes that are responsible for hand size.
In nature, birds evolved wings from hands – this cartoon shows humans bypassing evolution to achieve the same ends
Original version: 2000
This version: 2005
Cartoon reference number: a598
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck caricature as giraffe
A caricature of Lamarck, who is associated with the theory of evolution through the inheritance of acquired characteristics or Lamarckism
Lamarck’s head has been given a giraffe’s body, in reference to the famous caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape (a version of which can be found on this site). The giraffe is based on a woodcut of a giraffe by wood engraver Thomas Bewick
Cartoon reference number: a570
From my selection of science fiction cartoons
Creatures from earth that look like aliens from another planet
A cartoon showing that life on earth is as weird as extraterrestrial life
This cartoon was drawn many years ago, but is relevant today due to the BBC series Alien Nation, about the bizarre and otherworldly appearance of insects. Fish look pretty weird too don’t you think?
Cartoon reference number: a560
Science fiction cartoon
Cartoon – an alien planet where the inhabitants are almost human
The justification of extraterrestrials appearing human in form is sometimes justified by the theory of parallel evolution or convergent evolution
Part of the joke in this cartoon is that in many science fiction stories the aliens look very similar to people (and even speak English). I’ve retained the humanoid appearance here, but made one small alteration – I’ve put the features of the head upside down.
The point of this cartoon is to show that even a small deviation from the norm can make a human-like form look very odd, due to our sensitivity to the human form
Cartoon reference number: a559
Cartoon about the fact that most living things are symmetrical
Most lifeforms are symmetrical about a vertical plane that bisects them
This cartoon draws attention to the fact that we rarely even notice this fact. It does this by inventing a planet inhabited by asymmetrical aliens who find the idea of symmetry bizarre in a “strange but true” or “believe it or not” way
Cartoon reference number: a557
Evolution cartoon – the evolution of superior life-forms
A cartoon strip showing weapons evolving from bows and arrows to guns and bullets
This strip is about the concept of evolution as a form of evolutionary arms race, where one thing evolves into another, slightly superior form.
Cartoon reference number: a555
Cartoon – the evolution of humor
An illustration using the classic ‘evolution of man from ape’ tableau, showing modern man developing a sense of humour.
Humour is depicted using the trope of a banana skin
Cartoon reference number: a549
Altruism cartoon. Mindless violence and mindless altruism.
The evolution of altruism
A cartoon about the emergence of altruism in nature.
The cartoon shows prehistoric men or cave men fighting. Another prehistoric man is rushing to the scene of the violence to care for the wounded. Yet another caveman is wondering about the evolution of altruism as a personality trait.
Cartoon reference number: a535
Is the human race heading for a mass extinction event?
A cartoon showing geological rock strata and fossils, including the iridium layer that appeared at the time of the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.
The rock strata also include a layer of manufactured waste that is directly above the layer of rock that contains fossils of humans
The implication is that while the event that created the iridium layer destroyed the dinosaurs, the event that created the layer of anthropogenic waste destroyed the human race.
The current geological era or epoch is sometimes referred to as the anthropocene, as the major influence on the environment is the human race.
An earlier version of this cartoon appeared in my book of environmental cartoons, When Humans Roamed the Earth, published by Earthscan/WWF in 1991
Cartoon reference number: a458
Man evolving from a single-celled organism – cartoon
Cartoon of single-celled organisms in the primordial soup – with one that looks like a human being.
This cartoon is about the theory that life on earth started as simple unicellular organisms in chemical rich bodies of water
A cartoon about evolution, Darwin, Darwinism, abiogenesis and the origins of life.
Cartoon reference number: a395
Illustration: did life come to earth from outer space?
A cartoon or illustration showing the earth in space, with sperm approaching the earth
The concept that life was planted on earth by super-intelligent extraterrestrials, a concept known as directed panspermia (popularised by the question, Was God an Astronaut? as written about by Erich von Däniken, amongst others)has been revived recently with the film Prometheus by Ridley Scott, and will no doubt be aired again when the sequel is released.
Cartoon reference number: a340
Cartoon – The invention of agriculture
Stone age man inventing the spade
Showing a caveman holding a new invention – the garden spade.
He is saying that he has invented agriculture
The development of agriculture allowed people to settle down and gave them time to develop and invent new ways of doing things, thus leading to civilisation and other achievements
The invention of agriculture, along with the invention of cooking, were key factors in human evolution and development.
The joke here is that a humble garden implement such as a spade can have such a profound influence on human development.
A cartoon about cavemen, prehistoric society, stone age people and society.
Cartoon reference number: a328
Michelangelo – Hand of God cartoon
Sistine Chapel Creation of Man parody
Parody of Michelangelo’s Hand of God painting in the Sistine Chapel, being used to illustrate the concept that live on earth could have been deliberately brought to earth from outer space by aliens.
The cartoon could be linked to theories such as the ones offered in books such as Erich von Daniken’s “Chariots of the Gods”, although personally I’d rather be disassociated with such theories (if that’s what such sensationalist speculation can be called).
The concept of Was God an Astronaut? has been revived recently with the film Prometheus by Ridley Scott, and will no doubt be aired again when the sequel is released.
The theory that life may have been planted on Earth billions of years ago by an advanced alien civilization is sometimes known as directed panspermia. This theory was (mischievously?) proposed by Francis Crick (of dna fame) together with biologist Leslie Orgel in 1971. Directed panspermia is sometimes evoked to solve a particular problem in the science of life – science’s current inability to explain life’s origin. Of course the theory simply puts off the explanation, very much in the way that religions do – hence my use of Michelangelo’s hand of God creating Adam in the cartoon.
Cartoon reference number: a325
Cartoon. How an asteroid struck the earth and wiped out the dinosaurs
How an asteroid made the dinosaurs extinct.
The dinosaurs in this cartoon are in an ark similar to Noah’s ark. It is in fact a second ark constructed by Noah. He put the mammals, birds and so on in one ark and the dinosaurs in the other. You can see Noah’s ark with the mammals and birds in the background. The asteroid hurtled towards the earth and destroyed the ark carrying the dinosaurs, rendering them extinct.
Cartoon reference number: a080
Charles Darwin caricature and Alfred Russel Wallace caricature
Charles Darwin caricature as a cartoon ape, with an Alfred Russel Wallace cartoon ape in the background, based on the famous Darwin ‘monkey’ caricature of 1871.
This illustration is based on a redrawn version of a famous caricature of Charles Darwin – however I’ve added in the background the figure of Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace thought of the theory of evolution by natural selection independently of Darwin, however he gets little credit for it, with Darwin’s name being the only one in general public awareness.
The hundredth anniversary of Alfred Russel Wallace’s death in 1913 was marked by events under the umbrella title of Wallace100, with events at the Natural History Museum, London, and elsewhere.
Cartoon reference number: a079
The evolution of the giraffe’s neck
A cartoon showing a giraffe standing beside a tall tree. A monkey (or ape) in the tree is speaking to the giraffe. The monkey (or ape) is asking the giraffe why it spent so many years evolving such a long neck in order to reach the leaves in the tree when all it needed to do was to climb the tree
A cartoon about evolution, Charles Darwin, Just So stories
Cartoon reference number: gir31
Creepy crawly cartoon.
An adult insect admiring a baby insect, saying how cute and adorable it is. The baby insect is a maggot.
This cartoon is about the way that what we find attractive (or repulsive) is governed by factors of psychology and perception that are dependant on factors within the framework of our existence – such as whether we’re humans or insects. Evolution plays a big part.
Aesthetic judgement is not an independent quality.
Adults are hardwired to find babies attractive, cute and appealing.
A cartoon about aesthetics, beauty, prejudice, larva, larvae, grubs, maggots, aesthetic taste, bias, revulsion, repulsion, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, aesthetic relativism, entymology, evolution.
Cartoon reference number: mag710
A silhouette of a man with a stylised fish as an eye
This conceptual illustration may be about the fact that because we are evolved from fish we still see the world through our animal sensibilities.
Or maybe, because the fish eye is similar to the fish symbol used by some Christian groups, is this man looking at the world through the eyes of someone with a religious outlook?
Maybe it’s an illustration about the way that people generally see the world in the way that they want to see it, interpreting it through their own preconceived ideas and prejudices.
To be honest, the image just came to me one day, so the meaning is somewhere in my own subconscious
A cartoon about human evolution, vision, religion, bias, sight, insight, eye sight
Cartoon drawn: 2011
Cartoon reference number: eye710
Cartoon showing evolution from fish to humans. The humans then pollute the water, forcing fish to leave the water and initiating a new phase of evolution in the fish