10 Variations On Our March of Progress


The March of Progress is the name of a 1965 illustration by Rudolph Zallinger for the Time-Life book series Life Nature Library, specifically for the volume entitled Early Man. The original illustration has 15 figures. In popular usage, the folded-in version (shown) is more familiar. So familiar that it is a classic jumping-off point for parodies, jokes, and illustrations for everything from advertising to politics. Here are some of the more clever reworkings found on the internet.

The problem with the 1965 illustration is that none of the figures really resembled the 21st-century man, pictured here in his natural habitat. Another variation of this idea can be found on a t-shirt by Mike Jacobsen called The Evolution of Gamers.

Patrick Boivin created this illustration in 2005 to include not only modern man, but where he might be going in the future.

Evolution of the atomic man carries a warning that those of us who remember the Cold War are all too familiar with.

The provenance of Homer Sapien is not provided any of the many places I found it, but it is most likely drawn by Matt Groening.

This Worth1000 entry by pcysmith puts a new and slightly creepy spin on the story of evolution.

Then there is, of course, the evolution of woman. Artist Nadia Plesner (more recently known for her Darfurnica mural) painted this image called Evolution of Woman on a skateboard in 2009 to raise money for Skateistan, an organization that builds skate parks in Afghanistan and other countries.

This t-shirt design from RedMolotov shows the evolution of robots in science fiction as they evolved over time.

This awesome Lego version, complete with modern man at his computer, has no artist's name attached, but is found at the University of Utah Anthropology Club.

The webcomic Cyanide & Happiness made the obvious joke, which was available on a t-shirt at one time, but is no more.

A redesign by French artist Loup Niboyet advances our evolution to show how we can grow from exploiting the environment to healing it by planting trees.

You are probably familiar with the cover of the Supertramp album Brother Where You Bound, the poster for the movie Encino Man, and you've seen the March of Progress used in various political cartoons as well. In this post, I had to limit the number of references, and  concentrated on those I thought were strange, different, or particularly funny.