: We do not accept the evolution-based dates attached to the finds, but have left them intact for reference purposes.]
MAN OR APE?
Of all the branches found on that infamous evolutionary tree of life, the one leading to man should be the best documented. After all, as the most recent evolutionary arrival, pre-human fossils supposedly would have been exposed to natural decay processes for the shortest length of time, and thus should be better preserved and easier to find than any others. But what does the record of the rocks reveal about human evolution? Herestarting with our oldest alleged ancestoris that message.
Aegyptopithecus zeuxis has been called by Richard Leakey the first ape to emerge from the Old Worlds monkey stock (1978, p. 52), and is considered the first creature on the long road to man. A 12-year -old, however, could look at this fossil and identify it as an ape. No controversy here; the animal is admittedly an ape.
Dryopithecus africanus (once again, according to Richard Leakey) is considered to be the stock from which all modern apes evolved (1978, p. 56). And, as evolutionists David Pilbeam and Elwyn Simons have pointed out, Dryopithecus already was too committed to ape-dom to be the progenitor of man (1971, 173:23). No controversy here; the animal is admittedly an ape.
What about Ramapithecus? In the past, numerous anthropologists considered this creature to be the first true hominid. But that no longer is the case. Thanks to additional work by Pilbeam, we now realize that Ramapithecus was not a hominid at all, but merely another ape (1982, 295:232). In fact, as Duane Gish noted: He is no longer considered to have been a creature in the line leading to man (1985, p. 140). No controversy here; the animal is admittedly an ape.
What, then, shall we say of these three ancestors that supposedly form the taproot of mans family tree? We simply will say what the evolutionists themselves have admitted: all three were nothing but apes. Period.
The 13 fossil fragments that form Orrorin tugenensis (broken femurs, several teeth, and bits of lower jaw) were found in the Tugen Hills of Kenya in the fall of 2000 by Brigitte Senut and Martin Pickford of France, and have been controversial ever since. If Orrorin were considered to be a human ancestor, it would predate other candidates by around 2 million years. Senut and Pickford (in an even more drastic scenario) have suggested that all the australopithecineseven those considered to be our direct ancestorsshould be relegated to a dead-end side branch in favor of Orrorin. Yet paleontologist David Begun of the University of Toronto has admitted that scientists have been unable to determine whether Orrorin was, in fact, on the line to humans, on the line to chimps, a common ancestor to both, or just an extinct side branch (2001). Lots of controversy herebut no credible evidence of a creature on its way to becoming human.
In 1994, evolutionist Tim White and his coworkers described a new species known as Australopithecus ramidus, dated at 4.4 million years (White, et al., 371:306-312). The August 23, 1999 issue of Time magazine contained a feature story, Up from the Apes, about the creature (Lemonick and Dorfman, 1999, 154:51-58). Morphologically speaking, this was the earliest, most ape-like australopithecine to date, and seemed to be a good candidate for the most distant common ancestor of the hominids. A year later, however, White completely reclassified the creature as Ardipithecus ramidus (1995, 375:88). And one year after that, Donald Johanson (the discoverer of Lucysee next page) admitted in National Geographic that A. ramidus had many chimp-like features and that its position on the human family tree is in question (1996, 189:117). A year later, Meave Leakey and colleagues described the 3.8-4.2 million-year-old Australopithecus anamensis, which bears striking similarities to both Ardipithecus (a chimp?) and Pan (the actual genus of the chimpanzees).
The bright yellow and white wording on the front cover of the July 23, 2001 issue of Time announced somewhat authoritatively, How Apes Became Human, and claimed that a new hominid discovery of a creature known as Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba (kadabbafrom the Afar languagemeans basal family ancestor) tells scientists about how our oldest ancestors stood on two legs and made an evolutionary leap. Yet those empty cover-story words become almost secondary as readers find themselves captivated by the ape-man drawing that blankets the entire cover. Sadly, many readers may never make it to page 57, where staff writers Michael Lemonick and Andrea Dorfman admit that the discoverers of the fossils under discussion, Yohannes Haile-Selassie and his colleagues, havent collected enough bones yet to reconstruct with great precision what kadabba looked like. That seemingly insignificant fact, however, did not prevent the magazines editors from putting an intimidating, full-color reconstruction of this newest fossil find on the coveran image, if we may kindly say so, that becomes somewhat less than forthright in light of the actual facts of the matter. A thorough investigation of this scientific discovery reveals that the creature was reconstructed from only a few bone fragments and a few teethof which, the only one that might provide the artist with any structural information of the head was a piece of the right mandible.
In their article, One Giant Step for Mankind, Lemonick and Dorfman invited readers to meet their newfound ancestor, a chimplike forest creature that stood up and walked 5.8 million years ago (2001, 158:54). According to evolutionists, Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba lived between 5.2 and 5.8 million years ago, which beats the previous record holder by almost a million-and-a-half years and, according to evolutionists estimates, places A. kadabba very close to the time when humans and chimps first went their separate ways (158:56). Lemonick and Dorfman went on to comment:
...[N]o one has yet been able to say precisely when that first evolutionary step on the road to humanity happened, nor what might have triggered it. But a discovery reported last week [July 12, 2001BH/BT/EL] in the journal Nature has brought paleontologists tantalizingly close to answering both these questions (158:56; for the original Nature article, see Haile-Selassie, 2001).
Thats a pretty bold statement, considering the fact that researchers had only the following bone fragments from which to glean all of this information: a fragment of the right mandible, one intermediate hand phalanx, the left humerus and ulna, a distal humerus, a proximal hand phalanx fragment, a left clavicle fragment, a proximal foot phalanx, and a few teeth. In addition, these bones were not laid out neatly in a typical skeletal arrangement, all grouped together and just waiting for researchers to dig them up. No indeed. These few bones took researchers 5 years to collect and came from 5 different locations! And so, from a fossilized toe, a piece of jawbone, a finger, arm bones, a clavicle, and a few teeth we have this incredible ape-man to prove how apes became human.
Prominently displayed in the center of page 59 of the Time article is a photograph of a toe bone, about which Lemonick and Dorfman wrote: This toe bone proves the creature walked on two legs. Amazing, is it not, what one can discern from a single toe bone? The human foot contains 26 individual bones (see Netter, 1994, p. 492), yet evolutionary scientists claim that they can distinguish walking characteristics from an examination of just one? That bold caption also fails to inform the reader that this toe bone was found in 1999, is chronologically younger than the other bone fragments, and was found in a separate location from the rest of the fossils. In fact, the bone fragments that make up this new specimen came from five localities of the Middle Awash in Ethiopia: Saitune Dora, Alaya, Asa Koma, Digiba Dora, and Amba East (Haile-Selassie, 2001, 412:181).
Lemonick and Dorfman admitted: Exactly how this hominid walked is still something of a mystery, though with a different skeletal structure, its gait would have been unlike ours (158:57). But that did not stop the authors from speculating that kadabba almost certainly walked upright much of the time and that many of its behaviors undoubtedly resembled those of chimpanzees today (158:57). Interesting speculationespecially in view of the fact that the ages of the fossilized bone fragments composing kadabba vary by hundreds of thousands of years according to the evolutionists own dating schemes. What was it that convinced evolutionists that A. kadabba walked uprightly and was on the road to becoming man? A single toe bone!
In the March 22, 2001 issue of Nature, a completely new hominid genus from eastern Africa, Kenyanthropus platyops, was first described (Leakey, et al., 2001). Using the new specimen to rework humanitys pedigree, paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey (wife of famed paleontologist Richard Leakey) and her colleagues at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi argued that the small-brained creature was so unusual, it belongs not merely to a new species, but to an entirely new genus! This new find now is nestled firmly in the roots of the human family treeat a time when scientists believed that only one ancestral species existed, leaving it unclear just which (if either!) was the direct forebear of modern humankind.
The authors named the creature Kenyanthropus platyops, which means flat-faced man of Kenya, in recognition of Kenyas contribution to the understanding of human evolution through the many specimens recovered from its fossil sites (410:433). However, an exhaustive study of the Nature article reveals a total of 36 cranio-dental fossils collected from 4 different locations over a period of 17 years, of which only 6 contain bone fragments. Only two of these specimens, the skull and a partial upper jaw, are sufficiently intact to be assigned to this new taxon. The authors described their new finds as a well-preserved temporal bone, two partial maxillae, isolated teeth, and most importantly a largely complete, although distorted, cranium (410:433). Distorted indeed! Even an untrained eye can look at the figures provided in the article and see the extensive damage to this newly found fossil. The flat face of platyops adds another wrinkle in the evolutionary timelinea wrinkle that is no small problem because creatures younger than K. platyops (and therefore closer to Homo sapiens) have much more pronounced, ape-like facial features. K. platyops was dated at 3.5 million years, and yet has a much flatter face than any other hominid that old. Thus, the evolutionary scenario seems to be moving in the wrong direction!
Australopithecus afarensis was discovered in November 1974 by Donald Johanson at Hadar, Ethiopia. Dr. Johanson believes that this creature (known popularly as Lucy) is the immediate ancestor of man (see Johanson and Edey, 1981). Certain evolutionists strongly disagree. Lord Solly Zuckerman, the famous British anatomist, published his views in his book, Beyond the Ivory Tower. He studied the australopithecines for more than 15 years, and concluded that if man descended from an apelike ancestor, he did so without leaving a single trace in the fossil record (1970, p. 64). Some might complain, But Zuckermans work was carried out before Lucy was even discovered. True, but that misses the point. Dr. Zuckermans researchwhich established conclusively that the australopithecines were nothing but knuckle-walking apeswas performed on fossils that were younger (i.e., closer to man!) than Lucy.
Moreover, other evidence has come to light which suggests that Lucy is little more than a chimpanzee. Johanson and his coworkers admitted in an article in the March 31, 1994 issue of Nature that Lucy possessed chimp-proportioned arm bones (see Kimbel, et al., 1994) and that her alleged descendants (e.g., A. africanus and H. habilis) had ape-like limb proportions as wellwhich is a clear indication that she did not evolve into something more human. In the September 9, 1994 issue of Science, Randall Susman reported that the chimp-like thumbs in A. afarensis were far better suited to tree climbing than tool making (Susman, 1994). Lucy also possessed a nonhuman gait, based on a ratio of leg size to foot size (see Oliwenstein, 1995, 16:42). One researcher even went as far as to suggest that A. afarensis was little more than a failed experiment in ape bipedalism, and as such should be consigned to a side branch of the human evolutionary tree (as reported by Shreeve, 1996, 272:654). To add insult to injury, the March 29, 2000 San Diego Union Tribune reported:
A chance discovery made by looking at a cast of the bones of Lucy, the most famous fossil of Australopithecus afarensis, shows her wrist is stiff, like a chimpanzees, Brian Richmond and David Strait of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., reported. This suggests that her ancestors walked on their knuckles (Fox, 2000).
Evolutionist Jeremy Cherfas noted: Lucy, alias Australopithecus afarensis, had a skull very like a chimpanzees, and a brain to match (1983, 93:172). Adrienne Zihlman observed: Lucys fossil remains match up remarkably well with the bones of a pygmy chimp (1984, 104:39). Charles Oxnard, while at the University of Chicago, reported his multivariate computer analysis, documenting that the australopithecines were nothing but knuckle-walking apes (1975, 285:389-395). Finally, in the March 1996 National Geographic, Donald Johanson himself admitted: Lucy has recently been dethroned (189:117).
The Laetoli Footprints
Then, in the April 1979 issue of National Geographic, Mary Leakey reported finding fossil footprint trails at Laetoli, Tanzania. The strata above the footprints were dated at 3.6 million years, while the strata below them were dated at 3.8. As Lubenow noted: These footprint trails rank as one of the great fossil discoveries of the twentieth century (1992, p. 173). Why is this the case? Not only did Dr. Leakey discover three distinct trails containing sixty-nine prints, but she also found footprints that depicted one individual actually walking in the steps of another!something that only humans have the intelligence (or inclination) to do. Thus, Dr. Leakey was forced to admit that the footprints were remarkably similar to those of modern man (1979, 155:446).
Most evolutionists, however, have ascribed the footprints to A. afarensis. The specialist who carried out the most extensive study to date of the Laetoli footprints (at the invitation of Mary Leakey herself) is Russell Tuttle of the University of Chicago. He noted in his research reports that the individuals who made the tracks were barefoot and probably walked habitually unshod. As part of his investigation, he observed 70 Machiguenga Indians in the rugged mountains of Perupeople who habitually walk unshod. After analyzing the Indians footprints and examining the available Laetoli fossilized toe bones, Tuttle concluded that the ape-like feet of A. afarensis simply could not have made the Laetoli tracks (see Bower, 1989, 135:251). In fact, in an article on the Laetoli footprints in the March 1990 issue of Natural History, Dr. Tuttle wrote: In discernible features, the Laetoli G prints are indistinguishable from those of habitually barefoot Homo sapiens (p. 64). He then went on to admit: If the G footprints were not known to be so old, we would readily conclude that they were made by a member of our genus, Homo (p. 64, emp. added).
Interestingly, Mary Leakey originally labeled the Laetoli footprints as Homo indeterminate, indicating that she was willing to place them in the genus of man, but was unable to decide upon a species designation. It is obvious, of course, why she was unwilling to call them what they clearly areHomo sapiens. Since the tracks are dated as being older than Lucy (3.6-3.8 million years), and if Lucy is supposed to have given rise to humans, how could humans have existed more than 500,000 years prior to Lucy in order to make such footprints? [See Lubenow, 1992, pp. 45-58 for a more detailed refutation of Lucy, and pp. 173-176 for a discussion of the Laetoli footprints.]
Homo habilis/Homo rudolfensis
But what of Homo habilis? J.T. Robinson and David Pilbeam have long argued that H. habilis is the same as A. africanus. Louis Leakey (Richards father) went so far as to state: I submit that morphologically it is almost impossible to regard Homo habilis as representing a stage between Australopithecus africanus and Homo erectus (1966, 209:1280-1281). Dr. Leakey later reported the contemporaneous existence of Australopithecus, Homo habilis, and H. erectus fossils at Olduvai Gorge (see M.D. Leakey, 1971, 3:272). Even more startling was Mary Leakeys discovery of the remains of a circular stone hut at the bottom of Bed I at Olduvai Gorgebeneath fossils of H. habilis! Evolutionists have long attributed the deliberate manufacture of shelter only to Homo sapiens, yet Dr. Leakey discovered the australopithecines and H. habilis together, along with manufactured housing. As Duane Gish asked:
If Australopithecus, Homo habilis, and Homo erectus existed contemporaneously, how could one have been ancestral to another? And how could any of these creatures be ancestral to Man, when Mans artifacts are found at a lower stratigraphic level, directly underneath, and thus earlier in time to these supposed ancestors of Man? (1995, p. 271).
Good question! In his book, Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No!, Gish remarked concerning Homo habilis:
No paleoanthropologist has succeeded in sorting out all the creatures that are put into the taxon Homo habilis by some and taken out by others. Some insist that H. habilis is a bona fide taxon, including creatures intermediate between the australopithecines, either afarensis or africanus, and Homo erectus. Others argue just as strenuously that those creatures classified as H. habilis are no more than variants of the australopithecines (1995, p. 265).
In fact, evolutionist Ian Tattersall wrote under the title of The Many Faces of Homo habilis in the journal Evolutionary Anthropology: ...[I]t is increasingly clear that Homo habilis has become a wastebasket taxon, little more than a convenient recipient for a motley assortment of hominid fossils from the latest Pliocene and earliest Pleistocene (1:34-36, emp. added). In speaking of H. habilis, geologist Trevor Major summarized the situation as follows:
In fact, the whole issue of its place among Homo is highly contentious, and the species has become a dumping ground for strange and out-of-place fossils. Some paleontologists have tried to impose some order by reassigning australopithecine-like specimens to Homo rudolfensis, and the most modern-looking specimens to early African erectus or Homo ergaster (to which some would assign the Turkana boy). Apart from a small difference in brain size between australopithecines (less than 550 ml) and habilines (around 500-650 ml), there are no other compelling reasons to divide them between two genera (1996, 16:76, emp. added, parenthetical items in orig.).
Homo erectus/Homo ergaster
And what about Homo erectus? Until March 2002, most evolutionary anthropologists and paleontologists believed that two different creatures belonged in the H. erectus niche: Homo ergaster and Homo erectus. H. ergaster was believed to have emerged in Africa and then spread to Europe. H. erectus was believed to have existed mainly in Asia. But an article in the March 21, 2002 issue of Nature has challenged the traditional thinking about these two species. Writing under the title, Remains of Homo erectus from Bouri, Middle Awash, Ethiopia, Berhane Asfaw (of the Rift Valley Research Service in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and his coauthors discussed their discovery of a partial skull (referred to as a calvaria), which they labeled as H. erectus. The skull, discovered on December 27, 1997 in the Afar Rift of Ethiopia known as the Middle Awash, in a sedimentary section of the Bouri formation known as the Dakanihylo (Daka), has been dated at approximately 1 million years old (Asfaw, et al., 2002). The significance of what is now being called the Daka skull in the evolutionary debate is this:
The skull is almost identical to Homo erectus fossils found in Asia.... It is so similar, the team believes that it cannot possibly be that of another species. The Daka specimen suggests that Homo erectus was not limited to Asia, separated from its contemporary, Homo ergaster. Homo erectus instead was a robust, far-flung species that lived in Asia, Africa, and Europe (McKee, 2002).
Tim White, paleoanthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley and one of the coauthors of the Nature paper, put it this way:
This fossil is a crucial piece of evidence showing that the splitting of Homo erectus into two species is not justified.... What we are saying in this paper is that the anthropological splitting common today is giving the wrong impression about the biology of these early human ancestors. The different names indicate an apparent diversity that is not real. Homo erectus is a biologically successful organism, not a whole series of different human ancestors, all but one of which went extinct (as quoted in Ethiopian Fossil Skull..., 2002, emp. added).
Asfaw, et al., wrote:
To recognize the basal fossils representing this apparently evolving lineage with the separate species name H. ergaster is therefore doubtfully necessary or useful. At most, the basal members of the H. erectus lineage should be recognized taxonomically as a chrono-subspecies (H. erectus ergaster) [2002, 416:318-319, parenthetical item in orig.].
The graduate student who actually found the skull (and who is a coauthor of the Nature paper), Henry Gilbert, probably put it best when he said: One of the biggest impacts this calvaria will have on the field is in making Homo erectus look more like a single species again (as quoted in Ethiopian Fossil Skull, 2002).
Now that evolutionists have wiped out one-half of the Homo erectus niche by eliminating Homo ergaster, what shall we say about the single remaining member of the H. erectus category? Examine a copy of the November 1985 issue of National Geographic and see if you can detect any differences between the drawings of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens (Weaver, 168:576-577). The fact is, there are no recognizable differences. Almost forty years ago, Ernst Mayr, the famed evolutionary taxonomist of Harvard, remarked: The Homo erectus stage is characterized by a body skeleton which, so far as we know, does not differ from that of modern man in any essential point (1965, p. 632). His statement is as true today as when he first made it. Furthermore, the skull of H. erectus shared many features with the Neanderthals, yet with flatter brow ridges and a less prominent mid-facial region. Some of the H. erectus skeletons were short and stocky (like the Neanderthals), but one specimena nine- to eleven-year-old boy from West Turkana, Kenyawas quite tall and slender (Andrews and Stringer, 1993, p. 242). Cranial volume varied from 850 to over 1100 milliliters (ml) for H. erectus, and 1250 to over 1740 ml for Neanderthals. The average for modern humans is 1350 ml, but we exhibit a broad range of 700 to 2200 ml (Lubenow, 1992, p. 138).
In general, such things as skeletal proportions, the angularity of the face, and the shape of the brain case vary considerably among human fossils. Yet such differenceswhich are every bit as dramaticoccur just as frequently among modern humans. A Watusi today could not fail to miss a Mbuti pygmy who strolled into his village, and an Inuit certainly would stand out at a gathering of Australian aborigines. Despite obvious facial features, both H. erectus and H. sapiens neanderthalensis appear to fit within a distinct human kind. Although some specimens do exhibit a mixture of traits, there is no clear lineage from, say, H. erectus to H. sapiens. In fact, the evidence of the fossil record suggests that the two not only were contemporaries, but also in some cases even neighbors (Stringer and Gamble, 1993, p. 137). Remarkable confirmation of that very scenario was presented in two different articles in the December 13, 1996 issue of Science (see Gibbons, 1996; Swisher, et al., 1996). Creationist Marvin Lubenow, in his classic text on the alleged fossil evidence for human evolution, Bones of Contention, summarized the imaginary H. erectus to H. habilis to H. sapiens lineage as follows:
...Homo erectus individuals have lived side by side with other categories of humans for the past two million years (according to evolutionist chronology). This fact eliminates the possibility that Homo erectus evolved into Homo sapiens. ...On the far end of the Homo erectus time continuum, Homo erectus is contemporary with Homo habilis for 500,000 years. In fact, Homo erectus overlaps the entire Homo habilis population.... Thus, the almost universally accepted view that Homo habilis evolved into Homo erectus becomes impossible.... Homo habilis could not be the evolutionary ancestor of Homo erectus because the two groups lived at the same time as contemporaries....
Although the most recent date usually given for the disappearance of Homo erectus is about 300,000 y.a. [years agoBH/BT/EL], at least 106 fossil individuals having Homo erectus morphology are dated by evolutionists themselves as being more recent than 300,000 y.a. Of those 106 fossils individuals, at least sixty-two are dated more recently than 12,000 y.a. This incontrovertible fact of the fossil record effectively falsifies the concept that Homo erectus evolved into Homo sapiens and that Homo erectus is our evolutionary ancestor. In reality, it falsifies the entire concept of human evolution (1992, pp. 120,127,129, emp. and parenthetical item in orig.).
Lubenow suggests that all these forms should be included within a highly variable, created human kind (pp. 120-143). The fossil evidence for evolution (human or otherwise) simply is not there. Apes always have been apes, and humans always have been humans.
WHAT DOES THE RECORD SHOW?
Why is there so much confusion regarding human origins, and what does the fossil record actually show? We think Jeremy Rifkin summed it up accurately.
What the record shows is nearly a century of fudging and finagling by scientists attempting to force various fossil morsels and fragments to conform to Darwins notions, all to no avail. Today the millions of fossils stand as very visible, ever-present reminders of the paltriness of the arguments and the overall shabbiness of the theory that marches under the banner of evolution (1983, p. 125).
More than 6,000 hominid fossils now exist. Most such fossils can be placed into one of two groups: apes or humans. A few fossils do have odd characteristics or show abnormal bone structure. But does that mean humans evolved? No. It simply means that we have variations in bone structurevariations you can see all around you. Some heads are large; others are small. Some jawbones look angled; some look square. Some noses are pointed; some are flat. Does that indicate we still are evolving? Or does it mean that there are occasional differences in humans?
Remember this simple exercise the next time you see a picture of one of those ape-like creatures displayed prominently across the front cover of a reputable news magazine. Look at a skeleton (any one will do) and try to draw the person that used to exist with that bony framework. What color was the hair? Was it curly, or straight? Was the person a male or a female? Did he or she have chubby cheeks, or thin? These are difficult (if not impossible!) questions to answer when we are given only a few bones with which to work. The reconstructions you see as the end-product of an artists handiwork are not based merely on the fossil evidence, but also on what evolutionists believe these creatures should have looked like.
Additional hominid finds are under investigation as we complete this article, several of which have not even been classified taxonomically or made known to the public. You are sure to hear about them in the months ahead. Such fossil finds, however, never will diminish the fact that man always has been man; he did not evolve over millions of years. Rather, God, the Giver of life, created mankind on the sixth day of creation, just as the Bible states (Genesis 1:26-27).
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