Skip to content

Please be aware that some material may contain words, descriptions or illustrations which will not reflect current scientific understanding and may be considered in today's context inaccurate, unethical, offensive or distressing.


Cunningham writes: 'When the lumbar vertebrae of a native [sic] Australian, or of several other low races of man [sic], are placed in apposition, the centra form a curved column, with the concavity directed to the front. In other words, the bodies of the lumbar vertebrae are not moulded as in the European, but are wedge-shaped in the opposite direction.' Cunningham goes on to compare the spines of an unnamed 16-year-old Aboriginal girl, an unnamed 35-year-old Irish woman and a 'young female' chimpanzee. The spine of the Aboriginal girl was sent to Cunningham 'through the kindness of' Thomas Peter Anderson Stuart of Sydney University.

Annotations in pencil and ink. Includes four pages of diagrams of spinal curvature.

Subject: Anatomy / Physiology / Anthropology

Received 14 January 1889. Read 24 January 1889. Communicated by William Turner.

A version of this paper was published in volume 45 of the Proceedings of the Royal Society as 'The spinal curvature in an aboriginal Australian'.

Reference number
Earliest possible date
Physical description
Ink and graphite pencil on paper
Page extent
36 pages

Creator name

Daniel John Cunningham

View page for Daniel John Cunningham

Use this record


Daniel John Cunningham, Paper, 'The spinal curvature in an Aboriginal Australian' by Daniel John Cunningham, 1889, PP/13/31, The Royal Society Archives, London,, accessed on 21 July 2024

Link to this record

Embed this record

<iframe src="" title="Paper, 'The spinal curvature in an Aboriginal Australian' by Daniel John Cunningham" allow="fullscreen" frameborder="0" width="100%" height="500px"></iframe>

Related Publications


This item is part of:

Related Fellows

Explore the collection

  • Proceedings Papers

    Dates: 1882 - 1894

    The archival collection known as 'Proceedings Papers' is comprised of manuscripts and occasional proofs of scientific papers sent to the Royal Society which were read before meetings of Fellows and printed in full in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

    View collection