“Devolution,” Edmond Hamilton, 1936 – Scientists in the woods of North Quebec are in search of clues to man’s glorious path “up” the evolutionary chain. The story begins with a review of known evolutionary theory and questions about the role of mutations in achieving evolutionary branching and new species. Events take an unexpected turn when they encounter visiting jelly-like creatures. The creatures are enraged to find that their descendents have “devolved” into the simple lifeforms, such as man, that now litter the world.
Comments: This time, humanity is not the top of the evolutionary tree. (Compare to “The Accursed Galaxy,” in which humanity is not the center of the universe.) Read in Asimov’s Beyond the Golden Age, Volume 3.
Author: Wikipedia: “Edmond Moore Hamilton (October 21, 1904 – February 1, 1977) was an American author of science fiction stories and novels during the mid-twentieth.” “World-wrecker” Hamilton was an extremely prolific writer, particularly of space opera, and appeared frequently in Weird Tales. He was close friends with many prominent genre writers, including Jack Williamson, and was married to Leigh Brackett, a science fiction writer and a screen writer of several notable screenplays.