Frederic Wood Jones

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For others with the same or similar names, see Frederick Jones (disambiguation).
Wood Jones
Born Frederic Wood Jones
(1879-01-23)23 January 1879
Died 29 September 1954(1954-09-29) (aged 75)
Notable awards Clarke Medal (1941)
Fellow of the Royal Society[1]

Frederic Wood Jones FRS[1] (23 January 1879 – 29 September 1954), usually referred to as Wood Jones, was a British observational naturalist, embryologist, anatomist and anthropologist, who spent considerable time in Australia.[2][3][4][5][6][7]


Jones was born in London, England, and wrote extensively on early humans, including their arboreal adaptations (Arboreal Man), and was one of the founding fathers of the field of modern physical anthropology. A friend of Le Gros Clark, Wood Jones was also known for his controversial belief in the view that acquired traits could be inherited, and thus his opposition to Darwinism. He taught anatomy and physical anthropology at London School of Medicine for Women, University of Adelaide, University of Hawaii, University of Melbourne, University of Manchester and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Jones was president of the Royal Society of South Australia in 1927, and was awarded the Clarke Medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1941. He was elected President of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland for 1943 to 1945.[8]

Tarsian hypothesis[edit]

"Wood Jones, prior to the 1930s, promoted that the human line evolved from a very generalized primate from which avoided going through a hominoid ape stage. His tradition of interpretation... the human line avoided altogether the hominoid phase of evolution... [common] ancestor was conceived to be tarsoid-like form... the rise of the bipedal posture in humans was not believed to have been preceded by a brachiation or a pre-brachiation phase."[9]

Jones favoured a long separate, non-anthropoid ancestry for humans. He believed that science should search as far back as the primitive tarsioid stock to find a sufficiently generalised form that would be the common ancestor of man, monkeys and the anthropoid apes. The tarsian hypothesis of Jones, which he held to from 1918 until his death, claimed that the human line of development did not diverge from that of apes or monkeys but from much earlier, before the Oligocene 30 million years ago, from a common ancestor with a primitive primate group of which the only other survivor is the Tarsier.[10]


As well as numerous scientific papers, books he authored, coauthored and edited include:

  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1912). Coral and Atolls. A History and Description of the Keeling-Cocos Islands, with an account of their Fauna and Flora, and a Discussion of the Method of Development and Transformation of Coral Structures in General. Lovell, Reeve & Co Ltd: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1919). Man's Place Among the Mammals. Edward Arnold: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1923). The Ancestry Of Man. Douglas Price Memorial Lecture, No.3. R G. Gilles & Co.: Brisbane.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1923). The Position of Anatomy in the Modern Medical Curriculum and the Conception of Cytoclesis. University of Adelaide Commemoration Address, 1923. Hassell Press: Adelaide.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1923–25). The Mammals of South Australia. Parts I-III. Handbooks of the Flora and Fauna of South Australia. Government Printer: Adelaide.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1925). Unscientific Essays. Edward Arnold & Co: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1926). Arboreal Man. Edward Arnold: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1934). Sea Birds Simplified. Edward Arnold & Co.: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1934). Unscientific Excursions. Edward Arnold & Co: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1939). Life and Living. Kegan Paul: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1942). The Principles of Anatomy as Seen in the Hand. Williams & Wilkins Company: Baltimore.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1943). Design and Purpose. Kegan Paul: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1943). Habitat and Heritage. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1946). Structure and Function as Seen in the Foot. Bailliere Tindall and Cox: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1946). The Principles of Anatomy as Seen in the Hand. Bailliere Tindall and Cox: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1948). Hallmarks of Mankind. Bailliere Tindall and Cox: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (1953). Trends of Life. Edward Arnold: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood. (Ed.). (1946). Buchanan's Manual of Anatomy. Bailliere Tindall and Cox: London.
  • Jones, Frederic Wood; & Porteus, Stanley David. (1928). Matrix of the Mind. University of Hawaii: Honolulu.


  1. ^ a b Clark, W. E. L. G. (1955). "Frederic Wood Jones 1879-1954". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 1: 118–126. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1955.0009. 
  2. ^ Christophers, B. E. (1997). "Frederic Wood Jones: His Major Books and How They Were Reviewed". ANZ Journal of Surgery 67 (9): 645–659. doi:10.1111/j.1445-2197.1997.tb04617.x. 
  3. ^ Clark, W. E. (1955). "In memoriam: Frederic Wood Jones, D.Sc., F.R.C.S., F.R.S., 1879-1954; an appreciation". Journal of anatomy 89 (2): 255–267. PMC 1244790. PMID 14367223. 
  4. ^ W. E. Le Gros Clark (2004). "Jones, (Frederic) Wood (1879–1954), anatomist". The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34226.  edit
  5. ^ Christophers, Barry E. (Compiler). (1974). A List of the Published Works of Frederic Wood Jones, 1879–1954. Greensborough Press: Melbourne
  6. ^ Photograph from University of Adelaide Library website
  7. ^ MacCallum, Monica: Jones, Frederic Wood (1879–1954), Australian Dictionary of Biography Accessed 27 October 2011.
  8. ^ "The Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland – Presidents of the Society". The Anatomical Society. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Delisle, R. G. (2007). Debating humankind's place in nature, 1860-2000: the nature of paleoanthropology. Prentice Hall. p. 185.
  10. ^ Mans Ancestry by W. C. Osman Hill in the New Scientist 3 Jul 1958
Preceded by
Carl Süssmilch
Clarke Medal
Succeeded by
William Rowan Browne