The Scientific Evidence For the Origin of Man


By David N. Menton, Ph.D.
St. Louis, Missouri 1988

(C) copyright 1991 Missouri Association for Creation, Inc.

INTERMEDIATE FORMS

One of the most fundamental beliefs of evolutionism is that man has evolved from beasts through time, chance and natural selection. Some insist that evolutionism does not teach that man evolved from apes but rather from "ape-like" ancestors. This argument is specious as virtually any of the presumed "hominid ancestors" of man would be classified as apes were they alive today. An ape is defined as merely a tailess monkey. The research dealing with mans evolution from the apes begins with the assumption that man did in fact evolve from the apes. No observations or interpretations are allowed to question this apriori assumption. What has been sought in paleoanthropology (the study of human and "prehuman" fossil record) then are the transitional stages from ape-like animals to man. Transitional forms have proven as elusive here however, as between any other class of plants or animals. The missing links remain missing.

One would think that paleoanthropologists would have to begin with some idea of what sort of structural features may be assumed to prove that an ape is becoming man. Since mainly skulls are found in the fossil record, and especially teeth, we can reasonably expect that criteria used to judge transitional forms will pertain largely to these. What we are really asking is what is a hominid? A hominid is defined as an erect- walking primate that is either a "known" ancestor of man, a collateral relative of man or true man. Obviously man is the only known hominid.

The evidence most often sighted to show that an ape is in the process of evolving into man is the shape and cranial capacity of the skull. The average for the human is 1,350 cc for a woman and 1,500 cc for a man. The normal range is from 830cc (australian aborigines) to the largest brain ever recorded, about 2,800 cc. There is virtually no known correlation between intelligence and brain size among humans in this normal range. By comparison, modern apes have a brain capacity of 500cc.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS OF HUMAN SKULL COMPARED TO APE

Brow ridges are small Dome shape of skull Eye sockets broad and spaced relatively far apart Dental arcade - parabolic for man and U-shaped for apes Teeth morphology, small incisors and canines compared to molars in ape Position of the foramen magnum Shape of jaws Angle that canine teeth enter maxilla

Do paleoanthropologists have a consistent basis for determining if an ape-like creature really is near man or becoming man? The answer is quite simply NO! In his book LUCY, Donald Johanson said :

"It may seem ridiculous for science to have been talking about humans and prehumans and protohumans for more than a century without ever nailing down what a human was. Ridiculous or not that was the situation. We do not have even today, an agreed-on definition of humankind, a clear set of specifications that will enable any anthropologist in the world to say quickly and with confidence this one is a human; that one isn't".

The destinguished British Anatomist Sir Solly Zuckerman has pointed out much the same thing in a paper titled, "Correlation of Change in the Evolution of Higher Primates" (in EVOLUTION AS A PROCESS, A.C. Hardy, and E.B. Ford, eds., 1954):

"Views on phylogeny are never more than inferences, drawn in the light of the geological time scale .... The inferences are sometimes very insecurely based because of inadequacies of the evidence." "The lack of accepted criteria by which to judge the hominid nature, or otherwise, of borderline features in bones makes the whole position very difficult.

Still it is not difficult to tell that a human skull is human, the problem is with the idea of an ape becomming a man. What exactly would one look for in an ape to prove that it is evolving into man, or conversely, what does one look for in men that might indcate that they are more closely related to the apes than other men? Finally, we must not overlook the problem of the range of variation which is normal for a given primate species or sexual dimorphism which is often quite extreme in nonhuman primates.

Before we begin our consideration of the cast of characters that have been proposed as ancestors of man, we should be familiar with certain terms that are used by paleoanthropologists to name their hominid hopefuls. The term "pithecus" means ape, "anthro" means man and "homo" means self or modern man. Thus the name "Pithecanthropus" literally means "ape man".

PAST MISTAKES

PILTDOWN MAN ----Eanthropus dawsoni (dawn man) In 1912, Charles Dawson a medical doctor and an amateur paleontologist discovered a mandible and part of a skull in a gravel pit near Piltdown England. The jaw bone was ape-like but had teeth that showed wear similar to the human pattern. The skull was very human-like. These two specimens were combined to from "Dawn man", which was calculated to be 500,000 years old.

The whole thing turned out to be an elaborate hoax. The skull was indeed human (about 500 years old) while the jaw was that of a modern ape whose teeth had been filed to look like the human wear pattern. The success of this hoax for over 50 years in spite of the careful scrutiny of the best authorities in the world led Sir Solly Zuckerman to declare:

"--It is doubtful if there is any science at all in the search for man's fossil ancestry".

NEBRASKA MAN ---- Hesperopithecus haroldcookii In 1922, Henry Fairfield Osborn, then head of the American Museum of Natural History, received a tooth from a Mr. Cook who said he found it in the Pliocene deposits of Nebraska. Osborn claimed that this tooth had characteristics of man and ape and decided that it was from an ancestor of man. Other distinguished scientists supported Osborn's view. A picture of Nebraska man and his wife were published in the Illustrated London Daily News. This tooth was used at the Scopes "Monkey" trial in 1925 as irrefutable evidence of the animal ancestry of man. Since William Jennings Bryan was himself from the state of Nebraska, Osborn chided him about Nebraska man in the press:

"the earth spoke to Bryan from his own state of Nebraska. The Hesperopithecus tooth is like the still, small voice. It's sound is by no means easy to hear ----. This little tooth speaks volumes of truth, in that it affords evidence of mans descent from the ape".

Other parts of the skeleton were found in 1927 when it became clear that the "still small Voice" was nothing more than the tooth of an extinct pig (peccary).

RAMAPITHECUS

This animal was long believed to be the first branch from that line of apes which evolved into man about 14 million years ago. In an article on Ramapithecus in Scientific American (May 1977) Dr. Elwyn Simons said that:

"this extinct primate is the earliest hominid or distinctively man- like, member of man's family tree. The finding of many new specimens of it has clarified its place in human evolution".

Simons confidently concluded that the:

"pathway can now be traced with little fear of contradiction from generalized hominids -- to the genus Homo".

The crucial importance of Ramapithecus as an early ancestor of hominids is evident in this comment by Simons in Time magazine (Nov. 7, 1977):

"Ramapithecus is ideally structured to be an ancestor of hominids. If he isn't we don't have anything else that is".

Simon's confidence in the human or hominid ancestry of Ramapithecus is surprising in view of a study by Dr. Robert Eckhardt which appeared in an earlier issue of Scientific American (226: 94, 1972). Eckhardt had made 24 different measurements of the teeth from two species of Dryopithecus (a fossil ape) and one species of Ramapithecus. He compared the range of variation of these measurements with that of similar measurements of a population of modern chimpanzees. He found that there was greater variation in the teeth among living chimps than there was between Dryopithecus and Ramapithecus. This is significant because Ramapithecus is judged to be an early hominid primarily on the basis of its teeth. Eckhardt concluded:

"there is no compelling evidence for the existence of any distinct hominid species during this interval (pliocene 14 myo), unless the designation hominid means simply any individual; ape that happens to have small teeth and a corresponding small face."

Richard Leaky (American Scientist 64:174, 1976) apparently agrees with Eckhardt:

"the case for Ramapithecus as a hominid is not substantial, and the fragments of fossil material leave many questions open".

What about the human like dental arcade of Ramapithecus? In 1961, Elwyn Simons published a reconstruction drawing of the dental arcade of Ramapithecus based on a particular maxillary fragment (YPM 13799), which purportedly showed a nearly parabolic form with the post canine teeth strongly diverging posteriorly. This reconstruction has been accepted and reproduced by numerous authors. In 1969 however, Genet-Varcin using the same maxillary fragment showed that a completely different reconstruction is possible which shows the U-shaped dental arcade typical of apes. Moreover, there are living animals with dental characteristics quite similar to Ramapithecus. A high altitude baboon living in Ethiopia (Theropithecus galada) has incisors and canines which are small relative to those of other living apes. It also has the short deep face and other man- like features of the type associated with both Ramapithecus and Australopithecus. Clearly teeth reflect habitat and diet and not necessarily evolution.

Some investigators have suggested that Ramapithecus is nothing more than a female of Dryopithecus which every one agrees was an ape. Others have pointed out that some recent specimens of ramapithecus show a clear canine gap but that this is often ignored by authors who wish to emphasize its hominid status.

Many drawings have been made of Ramapithicus walking upright but Zihlman and Lowenstein have pointed out that:

"Ramapithicus walking upright has been reconstructed from only jaws and teeth. In 1961 an ancestral human was badly wanted. The prince's ape latched onto the position by his teeth and has been hanging on ever since, his legitimacy sanctified by millions of textbooks and Time-Life volumes on human evolution".

Ramapithicus may not be hanging on so well after all. In a recent issue of Science 82 (April p. 6-7) is an article titled "Humans lose an early ancestor" which states that:

"A group of creatures once thought to be our oldest ancestors may have just been firmly bumped out of the human family tree, according to Harvard University paleontologist David Pilbeam." "Many paleontologists have maintained that ramamorphs are our oldest known ancestors, evolving after we split away from the African apes". "But these conclusions were drawn from little more than a few jaw bones and some teeth". "The heavy jaw and thickly enameled teeth resemble those of early human ancestors, says Pilbeam, but in more significant aspects, such as the shape of its palate, the closely set eye sockets that are higher than they are broad, and the shape of the jaw joint, it looks more like an orangutan ancestor."

AUSTRALOPITHECINES

In his book LUCY, Donald Johanson refers to the "australopithecine mess" and indeed as we shall see it is certainly that. Australopithecus means "southern ape" because the first fossils were found in limestone quarries of South Africa (in Taungs). In 1924 a fossil of the face, lower jaw and a natural brain cast of a juvenile ape was found in a hillock together with the remains of other animals; all showed marks of inflicted blows. The fossil was given to Dr. Raymond Dart professor of anatomy at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg.

Dart was convinced that certain features of the Taungs skull and particularly the teeth were man-like so he concluded that it represented an intermediate between apes and man. He immediately rushed a notice to the journal Nature titled "Australopithecus; the man-ape of South Africa". His opinions on the matter were largely scorned by the scientists of the time who considered it to be some kind of chimpanzee. The skull was soon known derisively as "Dart's baby" but Dart and Dr. Robert Broom a physician, spent the rest of their lives trying to gain acceptance for Australopithecus.

Shortly after the discovery of the Taungs "child", as it is known today, Dart and Broom found other Australopithecines at Kromdraii, Swartkrans and Makapansgat. The apes seemed to show two parallel lines of development one being a small "gracile"(slender) type and the other a larger "robust" type. Much controversy has existed regarding these types and some investigators, including Richard Leakey, have concluded that they represent merely male and female of the same species while others say the gracile form, which is believed to be older, evolved into the robust form. Today these animals are known as Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus robustus respectively. The latter is clearly heavier, has more massive jaws and a pronounced sagital crest - all typical of sexual dimorphism in male apes. The australopithecines have often been found in association with other animals such as baboons and these often show evidence of bashed in skulls. Bone tools in the form of clubs, knives and choppers were found as well as evidence of fire. It might be attractive to assume that the Australopithecines had been the hunters and butchers except that some of their skulls were broken in as well. Were they then the hunters or the hunted? An American journalist met up with Dart who convinced him that the Australopithecines were actually hunting one another. The journalist, Robert Ardrey wrote a book AFRICAN GENESIS that popularized the view of the "killer ape".

In 1959, Mary Leaky discovered a badly broken skull (100 pieces) in Olduvai Gorge in East Africa. When she showed it to her husband Lewis he is reported to have said "why it's nothing but a damn Australopithecine". Louis quickly got over his disappointment, however, when he found a great variety of stone tools as well as the fossilized bones of animals in the same strata. The bones of many of these animals revealed that they had been butchered and deliberately broken for their marrow. Leakey decided on the basis of this evidence that his fossil had been the tool maker and butcher and thus called him Homo habilis or "handy man". Most other investigators, however, were not comfortable with such an extremely primitive beast being a tool maker. Like Australopithecus robustus, Leakey's "Homo habilis" had huge and very unhuman molars, a very small brain and a large bony sagital crest on the top of its skull. Later, Leaky thought better of the whole idea of his "Homo habilis" as a tool maker and demoted him to the classification of Zinjanthropus which means East African man. Although Mary Leaky found Zinjanthropus, or "Zinj" as it was often called, it made Louis Leakey famous as a result of the publicity he received from the National Geographic Society through its magazine and educational films. The National Geographic Society financed Leakey's work and largely through their publicity of Leakey and Zinj, paleoanthropology once again became both popular and respectable after a long period of disrepute following the Piltdown hoax. Today, Zinjanthropus is considered by everyone to be just another robust australopithecine just as Lewis Leaky originally said it was.

Australopithecines are considered by many to be hominids because they are believed to have been bipedal and thus walked upright. Dart and Broom for example, had no trouble determining that their australopithecines were erect walking hominids although they had no post cranial fossils! Until the 70s, the upright and bipedal posture was based on the position of the foramen magnum and very fragmentary finds of pelvis, limb and foot bones. Then Richard Leakey found several more nearly complete remains that threw considerable doubt on the idea of a upright posture. In Science News of 1971 (100:357) Leakey concluded that:

"the Australopithecines were long-armed short-legged knuckle-walkers, similar to existing African apes".

Perhaps no one has studied the Australopithecines more extensively than Sir Solly Zuckerman and yet he rejects the idea that they be classified as a hominid rather than simply an ape (in EVOLUTION AS A PROCESS, 1954):

"There is, indeed, no question which the Australopithecine skull resembles when placed side by side with specimens of human and living ape skulls. It is the ape - so much so that only detailed and close scrutiny can reveal any differences between them".

As for its putative bipedal posture, Zuckerman says:

"In short, the evidence for an erect posture, as derived from a study of the inominate bones, seems anything but certain."

In addition the anatomist Dr. Charles Oxnard of the University of Chicago claims that:

"multivariate studies of several anatomical regions, shoulder, pelvis, ankle, foot, elbow, and hand are now available for the australopithecines, these suggest that the common view, that these fossils are similar to modern man may be incorrect. Most of the fossil fragments are in fact uniquely different from both man and man's nearest living genetic relatives, the chimpanzee and gorilla (Nature 258:389).

Neither of these investigators, who have spent much of their professional careers studying the Australopithecines, believe that they walked upright and were bipedal. Most evolutionists now consider both Australopithecus africanus and robustus to be an evolutionary dead end and few consider them in any way ancestral to man. We could write the Australopithecines off entirely at this time were it not for the current love affair with an Australopithecine named "Lucy".

AUSTRALOPITHECUS AFARENSIS

In 1974 while searching for the bones of early human ancestors at Hadar, a desert in northeastern Ethiopia, the American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and French geologist Maurice Taieb discovered a nearly half complete skeleton which they estimated to be nearly 3 myo. This diminutive female specimen was named Lucy after the Beetle's tune "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds". A year later portions of 13 similar fossilized animals were found. Although Lucy's V-shaped jaw was quite different from the others it was decided to call them all Australopithicines. In most respects the skulls were markedly more ape-like than either A. africanus or robustus so they called them A. afarensis. Johanson also decided to include some Australopithecines discovered by Mary Leaky over 1000 miles away in Laetoli in the same species. Mary Leaky objected saying Johanson's work was "not very scientific" and Johanson responded that Mary Leaky "really shows a poor appreciation of what evolution is all about".

Lucy is about three and one half feet tall and had a tiny brain for her size even by ape standards. In his book LUCY, THE BEGINNINGS OF HUMAN KIND, Johanson said:

"with Lucy I had no problem. She was so odd that there was no question about her not being human. She simply wasn't. She was too little. Her brain was too small. Her jaw was the wrong shape." Her teeth "pointed away from the human condition and back in the direction of apes" and the "jaws had some of those same primitive features".

On the basis of the knee joint and pelvic bones, however, Johanson believes that Lucy did walk in an upright bipedal fashion. Thus he believes that Lucy is an ancestor of man as well as an ancestor of A. africanus. What is rarely mentioned, however, is the fact that the knee joint was found over a mile away from the skeleton and in strata 200 feet lower!

Note to reader: The 1973 knee joint is often referred to in the context of the Lucy skeleton. This knee joint, however, was found over a mile away and in strata 200 feet lower than the Lucy skeleton (1974) ---a point not always made clear by those who discuss the evidence for bipedality in Australopithecus afarensis in general, or Lucy in particular. Johanson has never claimed that the 1973 knee joint belongs to the individual skeleton known as Lucy, but _is_ convinced that the knee joint belongs to the same species as Lucy [Australopithecus afarensis] because of "anatomical similarity".
Johanson as we have seen is quite willing to incorporate other peoples fossils into his own classification. Not only did he incorporate Mary Leaky's Laetoli fossils into A. afarensis over her objection, he also claimed that A. afarensis made the remarkable human footprints she had discovered in layers of volcanic ash in Laetoli. Mary Leaky discovered a 73 foot long trail of fossilized footprints consisting of 20 prints of an individual the size and shape of a modern 10 year old human and 27 prints of a smaller person. The paleoanthropologist Timothy White who was working with Leakey at the time said:

"Make no mistake about it, they are like modern human footprints. If one were left in the sand of a California beach today, and a four-year old were asked what it was, he would instantly say that somebody had walked there. He wouldn't be able to tell it from a hundred other prints on the beach, nor would you. The external morphology is the same. There is a well shaped modern heel with a strong arch and and good ball of the foot in front of it. The big toe is straight in line. It doesn't stick out to the side like an ape toe" (Lucy p. 250, Johanson & Edey).

Louis Robins of the University of North Carolina who analyzed the foot prints said:

"the arch is raised, the smaller individual had a higher arch than I do -- the toes grip the ground like human toes. You do not see this in other animal forms"(Science News 115:196-197, 1979).

In a recent lecture in St.Louis, Mary Leaky pointed out one additional feature of her footprints that one does not often see mentioned in the literature; all of the larger foot prints of the trail have a smaller footprint superimposed on them! Mary Leaky herself conceeded that it appears that a child was intentionally lengthening its stride to step in an elders foot prints! It shouldn't be necessary to emphasize that this is a far more sophisticated behaviour than one expects from apes. In addition there were thousands of tracks of a wide variety of animals that are similar or identical to animals living in the area today including antelopes, hares, giraffes, rhinoceroses, hyenas, horses, pigs and two kinds of elephants. Even several birds eggs were found and many of these could be easily correlated with eggs of living species.

Mary Leaky assumes that the footprints were made by some hominid but not by Homo sapiens because the stratum in which the prints are found is estimated to be 3.5 myo. That happens to be the current presumed age of A. afarensis and thus it is that Johanson insists that they simply would have to have been made by his A. afarensis:

"the foot prints would have to be from A. afarensis. They substantiate our idea that bipedalism occurred very early, and our contention that the brain was too small to master tools".

Mary Leaky disagrees with Johanson and his claims for A. afarensis as the maker of her footprints. Mary Leaky is not the only one who questions Johansons claims for Lucy. In a recent article in Science News 122:116 titled "Was Lucy a Climber?" two groups of scientists working independently challenged the claim that Lucy had completely abandoned the trees and walked fully upright on the ground. Anthropologist Russel Tuttle from the University of Chicago said that the Laetoli footprints that Leaky discovered in Tanzania were made by another more human species of ape-man that coexisted with A. afarensis about 3.7 million years ago and that it was this unknown hominid that is the direct ancestor to man. After a careful examination of the Laetoli prints and foot bones of the Hadar A. afarensis he concluded that the "Hadar foot is ape-like with curved toes" whereas the foot prints left in Laetoli are "virtually human".

Susman and Stern of the State university of New York at Stony Brook have concluded that A. afarensis while capable of walking upright, spent considerable time in the trees. They base this conclusion on an examination of Lucy,s scapula, foot and hand bones which they say show "unmistakable hallmarks of climbing". They also believe that Lucy,s limb proportions did not allow an efficient upright gait.

Finally, to make matters even more confusing, some anthropologists claim that A. afarensis is really the same animal as A. africanus. In a recent lecture at Washington University in St. Louis (May, 1984), The Harvard anthropologist Dr. David Pilbeam stated that A. afarensis was virtually indistinguishable from A. africanus. On the other hand, Pilbeam said that he believed that A. africanus was directly ancestral to man but conceeded that in the hominid fossil record, one organism could be "substituted for another".

HOMO HABILIS

As we have pointed out, the taxon Homo habilis had an illegitimate birth with Zinjanthropus whom Louis Leaky thought was the "handy man" responsible for the stone tools with which he was found buried. After the demotion of Zinj to an Australopithecine, Louis Leakey and his coworkers reported four new fossil specimens in 1964 that they found in Olduvai Gorge. These they claimed were larger brained than australopithicines and surely deserved to be classified as Homo habilis. All were badly crushed skull and jaw fragments. In his book LUCY, Johanson said that :

"always obsessed with finding human fossils, he (Leakey) insisted that these belonged to the genus Homo and should be so named".

Measurements of the cranial capacity of these fossil fragments were difficult if not impossible but, none the less, it was concluded that they averaged 642 ccs, 200 ccs larger than australopithecines and that was considered enough to make them human. They also felt that their Homo habilis had human-like molars and premolars. Not everyone was equally enthusiastic about these new candidates for the "handy man" however. Wilfred LeGros Clark said:

"Homo habilis has received a good deal of publicity since his sudden appearance was announced --- from the brief accounts that have been published, one is led to hope that he will disappear as rapidly as he came"(LUCY).

C. Loring Brace seems to be in agreement with this assessment of the taxon:

"Homo habilis is an empty taxon inadequately proposed and should be formally sunk".

New life was breathed into Homo habilis by Louis Leakey's son Richard who worked in the Lake Rudolf area in Kenya. He asked for and was given financial support by the National Geographic Society for the purpose of finding human ancestors. Leakey found numerous stone tools and 40 specimens of Australopithecus. Then in 1972 he made a discovery that was to shake paleoanthropology to its foundations. He found the tool maker that his aging father had so long sought in vain. Perhaps he found even more than he bargained for. He found several fossilized bone fragments of a skull which his wife Meave carefully assembled to make a nearly complete skull minus the lower jaw. The skull was given the unimaginative name KNMER 1470 for its registration at the Kenya National Museum in East Rudolf.

The skull capacity of 1470 was difficult to estimate because of the condition of the specimen but was estimated to be 800 cc (later measured to be 750 cc), much larger than most ape-men skulls. There were only small eyebrow ridges, no crest and a domed skull typical of a human. Indeed , it appeared to be a human skull. Professor A. Cave an anatomist who was the first to demonstrate that Neanderthal man was a Homo sapiens examined 1470 in London and concluded that: "as far as I can see, typically human". In addition, Leaky fund two complete femurs, a part of a third femur and parts of a tibia and fibula near the skull which he said: "cannot be readily distinguished from Homo sapiens".

THE "ABSOLUTE" DATING OF 1470

How old is 1470? In July 1969 samples of KBS tuff from just above the stratum in which 1470 would be found, had been sent to Cambridge for potassium argon dating. Three tests gave average dates of 220 myo (million years old)+ or - 7my! This was considered unacceptable for this strata given its fossil content and so "extraneous argon" was blamed. Less calcified samples were sought out and tested which gave dates of 2.37 and 3.02 myo which were considered "encouraging". Further tests were run giving dates from 2.25-4.62 myo. An age of 2.61 myo was put forward as "the best and most acceptable estimate" (Fitch & Miller, 1970, Nature 226:226-228).

Since 1470 came from just below the KBS tuff containing layer, it was decided that it was 2.9 myo. An essentially human skull 2.9 myo! In National Geographic Magazine in June of 1973 Richard Leakey said:

"Either we toss out this skull or we toss out our theories of early man". "It simply fits no previous models of human beginnings". "1470 leaves in ruins the notion that all early fossils can be arranged in an orderly sequence of evolutionary change".

The problem was that 1470 was clearly contemporary with Australopithecus, if not older, and yet looked much like modern man! This absolutely unseated the Australopithecines as the ancestors of man. Incredibly, when Richard Leaky spoke at Webster College in St.Louis in February of 1984 he said almost nothing of 1470 and insisted that the only reason that 1470 got so much publicity from the media was because "the world was flat in 1972" apparently suggesting that there was nothing else news worthy going on in the world at that time! One is tempted to conclude that 1470 had simply proved to be too difficult to deal with and thus must now be swept under the rug.

The human-like appearance of 1470 coupled with its age of 2.9 myo was a big problem for Johanson who considered his A. afarensis to be the sole evolutionary link between apes and man. With a vastly more human appearing 1470 around that was either a contemporary of afarensis or even slightly older his fossil was unlikely to be directly ancestral to man. So Johanson decided to have 1470 "redated". Lucy herself had been dated by several radiometric methods whose published results varied from 2.5 to 3.7 myo and 2.9 had been chosen as the "absolute" age. Johanson sought the aid of Basil Cooke who claims to have assembled a detailed two million year sequence of fossil pig lineages which he insists is consistent over a wide geographical area. This incredible scheme is based on what is assumed to be a constant but rapid rate of evolution in length of the third molar of certain pig fossils found in southern Ethiopia. These "index pigs" were used to redate Leaky's 1470 at less than 2 myo which placed it on the desired human side of Lucy. To make things even more comfortable for Lucy, Johanson decided to date her again too in an effort to see if he couldn't make her a little older. In his book LUCY, Johanson said:

"That meant turning to Basil Cooke and his pig sequences. These had already straightened out a dating puzzle at Lake Turkana and shoved Richard Leakey's 1470 H. habilis skull forward from 2.9 my to less than 2.0 my. Perhaps they could do it for Lucy too. But in this case they would be stretching her age not shrinking".

Needless to say, Cooke came through as expected and said that his pig sequence showed:

"an age of 3.0 - 3.4 m.y. would give a better fit than the 2.9 m.y. age for Lucy" (p. 206 -207).

So much for scientific objectivity in paleoanthropology and "absolute" dating employing radiometric techniques. To make matters even more confusing, Garnis Curtis at Berkeley has recently used potassium argon dating on the KBS tuff and come up with younger dates yet. His first series of tests showed it to be 1.8 m.y.o. and his second series of tests showed it to be 1.6 m.y.o. To add chaos to confusion, recent fission track studies of zircons from the KBS tuff indicate an age of 3 m.y.o.! No wonder radiometric dating labs require that all samples to be "dated" be identified as to their source in the Geological column! Approximately 8 out of 10 specimens ("dates") are discarded by radiometric dating labs because they are well out of range of age they "ought to be" given there source in the geological column. In their book POTASSIUM ARGON DATNG, PRINCIPLES, TECHNIQUES AND APPLICATIONS TO GEOCHRONOLOGY, Dalrymple and Lanphere sum up the whole circular process of radiometric dating:

"If the potassium-argon ages of a group of rocks agree with the stratigraphic sequence determined on the basis of physical relationships of fossil evidence, then the probability is good that radiometric ages are reliable..."(page 197)

One thing is clear, when the radiometric dates are found to be in dissagreement with the assigned age of fossils based on evolutionary assumptions, the assumed evolutionary age of the fossil always takes precedence over the "absolute" radiometric dates. Still, evolutionists continue to insist that their methods of dating are so precise and reliable that the dates always come out the same even when several different methods of dating are used on the same specimen.

HOMO ERECTUS

The Homo erectus story is undoubtedly the weakest link in the whole human evolutionary scenario. It all began soon after the publication of Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES with a Dutch physician by the name of Eugene Dubois who burned with the desire to find the "missing link" between apes and man. Dubois had been a student of Ernst Haeckel at Jena University. Haeckel is well known for his "biogenetic law" which stated that each embryo in the course if its development passes sequentially through many of the evolutionary stages of its ancestors. It is now well known that Haeckel deliberately falsified the data he used to support this vacuous claim. Jane Oppenheimer in her book ESSAYS IN THE HISTORY OF EMBRYOLOGY AND BIOLOGY (p.50) said that:

"the work of Haeckel was the culmination of the extremes of exaggeration which followed Darwin". "Haeckel's doctrines were blindly and uncritically accepted".

Haeckel had invented a hypothetical ape-like man he called Pithecanthropus alalus (speechless ape man) and suggested that he could be found somewhere in Southern Asia or Africa. Haeckel even commissioned a painting of his ape-man who appeared with wife and child.

Dubois was convinced that he would find Pithecanthropus in Sumatra and having failed to get financial support from the Dutch government for his quest he enlisted as a surgeon in the Royal Dutch Army in order to be stationed in Sumatra. There he learned that a fossil skull had been found on the nearby island of Java. He was able to secure the skull and found another at the same site but unfortunately these fossilized skulls were too much like modern man to be of interest to one searching for an ape-man. In September of 1891 he discovered a large molar tooth in a cave on the banks of the Solo river. The following month he discovered another molar tooth. The month after that he found an ape-like skull cap. On the following year he found a fossilized human femur 46 feet away from the where the skull cap had been found. Although he first considered the skull cap to be that of a chimp, after correspondence with Ernst Haeckel he declared his collection of skull cap, femur and two molars to belong to one and the same creature which he described as "admirably suited to the role of the missing link".

The missing link arrived just in time as Darwin's theory was under fire because of the lack of fossil transitional forms between the major classes of animals and especially between ape and man. By joining an ape skull with an essentially modern human femur, and insisting that this conglomerate represented one specimen, Dubois succeeded in creating a true "ape-man" which he called Pithecanthropus erectus (upright apeman). He had originally claimed that the strata he was working in was pliocene (about 1 m.y.o.) but after he found his ape-man he decided that it was really Tertiary (10 myo). This of course was before "absolute" dating methods.

When Dubois exhibited his Pithecanthropus in Berlin, the distinguished anatomist Rudolph Virchow refused to even chair the meeting. Virchow pointed out the ape-like features of the skull and commented that "the thigh bone has not the slightest connection with the skull". None the less, interest ran high for Pithecanthropus and numerous imaginary paintings and drawings were made and published of this famous "ancestor" of man for the benefit of the laity. G.K. Chesterton commented that:

"People talked of Pithecanthropus as of Pitt or Fox or Napoleon. Popular histories published portraits of him like the portraits of Charles I or George IV. A detailed drawing was reproduced carefully shaded to show the very hairs of his head were all numbered. No uninformed person, looking at its carefully lined face, would imagine for a moment that this was the portrait of a thigh bone, a few teeth, and a fragment of a cranium."

As Dubois came under increasing attack he became very secretive about his fossil finds. He locked his fossil specimens away and even hid some under his dinning room floor. Not until about 40 years later did he reveal the two fossilized human skulls he had found in the same strata as Pithecanthropus. A few years before his death in 1940, Dubois himself admitted that Pithecanthropus was in his opinion the skull of a large gibbon. His admission was not accepted by the evolutionists however and to this day Pithecanthropus is considered to be Homo erectus.

The other fossil in the Homo erectus taxon is even more enigmatic - Peking man. In 1929 an almost complete skull cap was found in an infilled limestone cave at Choukoutien near Peking China. This ape-like skull cap was similar to Java man. The cave was continuously excavated until the beginning of World War II and fragments of 14 skulls, 12 lower jaws and 147 teeth were found. Several skeletons of modern men were found at a higher level. Bone fragments were once again gathered from various places and assembled to form a skull. The jaw bone for example came from a level 85 feet higher that the skull and face bones. A sculptor was hired to model a womans features on a cast of the skull and the result was named "Nellie". Nellie has appeared in many textbooks. Unfortunately the skull was lost during the Japanese occupation of China during WW II.

Once again as in many of the other presumed hominid fossil finds, numerous stone tools and evidence of butchery and fire was found. Choukoutien has recently been intensively investigated by Chinese scientists who have found over a thousand fragments of stone tools, the skulls of over 100 animals as well as fragments of 6 Homo erectus skulls. The skulls show consistent evidence of having been broken in. In addition, a layer of ashes over three meters thick has been found. The Chinese scientists assume that Homo erectus made the tools and the fires because they are confident that there were no representatives of Homo sapiens around 500,000 - 1,000,000 years ago!

Once again, Richard Leaky and his co-workers have added a confusing chapter to an already confusing story. In July 1984, a nearly complete fossilized skeleton of an obviously human 12 year old boy was discovered in Lake Turkana in Kenya. The skeleton of this child was like that of a modern human in all respects except for certain details of the skull. He had a low forehead and pronounced brow ridges not unlike some races of modern man. Richard Leaky said that this boy would go unnoticed in a crowd today. Since this human skeleton was fond in strata "dated" at 1.6 myo it was classified by age alone as another representative of that enigmatic taxon Homo erectus!

NEANDERTHAL MAN

Although we are considering Neanderthal man last, he was really the first "ape-man" having been discovered in Darwin's day. We have seen how paleoanthropologists have tried to make men out of apes, now we shall see how they have tried to make apes out of men. The story began in the Neander valley of Germany. Here in 1856 a local school teacher discovered a skull cap, two femurs, two humeri and other fragments. A careful anatomical description by Professor Schaafhausen reported them to be human and normal. Two years later two similar skulls were found in Belgium. Subsequently portions of 60 Neanderthal type skeletons were fond in China, Central and North Africa, Iraq, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Greece and north western Europe. At first not much attention was given these finds but with the publication of Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES, the search was on for man's ape-like ancestors. Darwinians argued that Neanderthal man was an ape-like man while many critical of Darwin like Virchow argued that these individuals were fully human but some might have been suffering from rickets or arthritis, This race of men was characterized by prominent eyebrow ridges, low forehead, long narrow skull, a protruding upper jaw, and a strong lower jaw with a short chin. They were deep chested with curved-heavy built leg bones and large joints.

In 1908 Neanderthal skeletons were found in the village of LeMoustier and at La Chapelle-aux-Saints. These were studied and extensively described by Professor Boule of the Institute of Human Paleontology in Paris. Boules opinion and lengthy reports were to shape opinion about Neanderthal man for the 20th century. He said that the Neanderthal group was an inferior type much closer to the apes than to any other human group. He thought they were intellectually primitive as well. He pointed out the slumped posture. "monkey like" arrangement of certain spinal vertebrae ad suggested that the feet were of a "grasping type" like the gorillas and chimpanzees. It was concluded that Neanderthal could not walk erect and indeed must have walked in a clumsy fashion. Boules views prevailed and were amplified by many other evolutionists up to the mid 1950s.

One embarrassing fact about Neanderthal man was that his brain capacity was larger than modern man (1600cc for La Chapelle-aux-Saints). Boule and others either ignored this or played down the significance of the extra 200 cc. One wonders if it would have been ignored if Neanderthal man's brain were 200 cc smaller than modern man?

In 1957 the anatomists Straus and Cave examined La Chapelle-Aux-Saints and determined that the individual suffered form severe arthritis, which affected the vertebrae and bent the posture. The jaw also had been affected. The big toe was definitely not prehensile as Boule had claimed. The pelvis was not ape-like. In their report they commented that:

"if he could be reincarnated and placed in a New York subway provided he were bathed, shaved and dressed in modern clothing it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention that some of its other denizens".

Today Neanderthal man is classified as Homo sapiens. But even to the present there has been a great reluctance to allow Neanderthal man to be fully human. In the Smithsonian magazine published in 1975 for example:

"For a while there it seemed that Neanderthal man had been rehabilitated and was slipping closer to the mainstream of human evolution, but the situation remains fluid".

In a lecture at Washington University in May of 1984, David Pilbeam seamed to regret that Neanderthal man had been classified as Homo sapiens and insisted that Neanderthal man was far too primitive to be so classified.

Forgotten in all of this is the overwhelming evidence we have for Neanderthal man's rather sophisticated culture. He buried his dead and had rather elaborate funeral customs. He made a variety of stone tools, worked with skins and leather, and there is even evidence to indicate that he engaged in some form of pharmacy, dentistry and surgery.

In a recent article in Science 81 (Oct) it was admitted that the human status of Neanderthal had long been maligned. The article was about a sculptor, Jay Matterens who specializes in the fleshing out of skulls for forensic evidence. With the aid of anatomists, Matterens has "fleshed out" a skull of Neanderthal man and the obviously human results have shocked the evolutionists. Matterens admitted that he had to fight against his preconceptions" to draw what the measurements showed. The article pointed out that:

"in the view of many paleonanthropologists, the story of human evolution has been fictionalized to suit needs other than scientific rigor".

CONCLUSION

There seems to be no end to the speculation over the bestial ancestry of man and it would appear that all scientific caution has been thrown to the wind. In 1976, for example, Dr. Geoffry Bourne, Director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center at Emory University declared that apes and monkeys are in fact the evolutionary descendents of men! Dr. Bourne based his opinion on the fact that fossils of man predate his supposed ape-like ancestors (Australopithecus and Homo erectus) and that the human fetus bears certain resemblence to the ape.

In his book BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER (1970) the anatomist Sir Solly Zuckerman ranked the various fields of science in order of decreasing scientific validity. His order went; physics, chemistry, biology, social science and then he said:

"We then move right off the register of objective truth into those fields of presumed biological science, like ESP or the interpretation of man's fossil history, where to the faithful anything is possible - and where the ardent believer is some times able to believe several contradictory things at the same time".

Dr. David Pilbeam an anthropologist at Harvard seems to have come to similar conclusions. In a recent review of Richard Leakey's book ORIGINS in American Scientist (66:379 May June 1978) he said that it was "a clear statement of our current consensus view of human evolution and remarkably up to date" but he concluded with the following sobering thoughts:

"My reservations concern not so much this book but the whole subject and methodology of paleoanthropology. But introductory books - or book reviews - are hardly the place to argue that perhaps generations of students of human evolution, including myself, have been flailing about in the dark: that our data base is too sparse, too slippery, for it to be able to mold our theories. Rather the theories are more statements about us and ideology than about the past. Paleoanthropology reveals more about how humans view themselves than it does about how humans came about. But that is heresy."

Despite all of its weaknesses and often unscientific character, human evolution will doubtless continue to be the most popular story in the evolutionary legend. When Richard Leaky spoke on human evolution at Webster College in St.Louis a few years ago, dozens of school busses bearing grade school children arrived nearly an hour early to ensure seats for the talk. Hundreds of people who could not find seats or standing room in the auditorium stood in the lobby to hear the talk via a PA system. As is so often the case in general talks on evolution, Mr. Leaky did not miss this opportunity to proselytize the social, religious and political implications of evolutionism and mans bestial origin. The cast of apes considered to be ancestral to man will continue to change, as it has in the past, but that is not important to evolutionism as long as the central "dogma" and its profound implications remains - man is a beast.

Last Revised: July 19, 1996

Go to Creation Science home page