The book was inspired by Charles Lyell's Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man of 1863 (and probably also influenced by Lyell's earlier ground-breaking work "Principles Of Geology", published 1830–33). By that time geologists had abandoned a literal biblical account of Earth's development and it was generally thought that the end of the last glacial period marked the first appearance of humanity, but Lyell drew on new findings to put the origin of human beings much further back in the deep geological past. Lyell's book also influenced Louis Figuier's 1867 second edition of La Terre avant le déluge ("The Earth before the flood") which included dramatic illustrations of savage men and women wearing animal skins and wielding stone axes, in place of the Garden of Eden shown in the 1863 edition.
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