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Human fossils

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“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them…” “… And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth, and every man.” Genesis 1: 27, Genesis 6:7

These excerpts from Genesis Chapter 1 and 6 state the beginning and the end of the pre-flood human race on earth, with the exception of Noah and family. The record of creation, temptation, sin, death and promise of redemption, and the horrifying cataclysmic destruction of life by a world-wide flood are God’s eyewitness account of man’s earliest existence. The subsequent re-population of earth testified by the Genesis 11 record of the families of Noah indicate man’s outward migration from a point of origin. Today, the study of fossil men generates many questions as scientists grapple with interpretation over the evidence of man found in the fossil record.

The Creationist scientist sees the evidence and seeks to place fossil man in a pre- or post-flood context. He looks at the geologic strata and classifies the fossil record as a result of ecological or biogeographical zones resulting from cataclysm.

The evolutionist scientist has a different set of questions to answer. His dilemma lies in the gathering flood of fact and reason that point, not to long ages and gradual transformation, but to fossils out of place, out of order, seemingly bizarre intrusions in an orderly geologic column. A brief overview of fossil man will give some understanding as to what the fuss is about. What are people saying about our ancestors?

Human Fossils and Controversies

Types of Human Fossils

Fossil man is categorized broadly into five groups. The classifications are based on skull shape and size, pelvic tilt, placement of limbs, thickness of skull, size of jaw and teeth, and estimated height. Consideration is also given to the strata in which the remains are found as well as any indications of culture such as tools. (The descriptions and dates given by evolutionist are used for identification only. Six Day creationists do not accept the use of millions years. [1]

Modern Man – Homo sapiens, is considered fully human. His brain capacity is 1,200 to 1650 cc, with a round skull, high forehead, vertical face, and prominent chin. Currently, scientists have placed the following in this category: Cro-Magnon fossils, the Castenedolo, Olmo, Calaveras, Swanscombe, Foxhall and Galley Hill fossils. [2] Interestingly, this article states that anthropologists and paleontologists reject the above six fossils because they were found too low in geologic strata. However, several had evidences of culture nearby such as the use of fire and tools. The Swanscombe skull with a cranium capacity of 1,325 cc was painstakingly documented in a gravel bed dated at 250,000 years old.
Cranial Features of Modern Man and Neanderthal compared

Neanderthal Man - the skull is longer from back to front, slightly more capacity (1,500 cc), with large brow ridges, sloping forehead, and receding chin. Generally a short but powerful skeletal structure. This is the hairy caveman artistically depicted for museum displays and student textbooks. In 1908, an arthritic complete skeleton discovered at La Chapell-aux-Saints led to this depiction. A later study (1957) of the fossil showed that this elderly man walked upright even with a deformed spine. Researchers point out that there are people alive today who have the same general characteristics as this fossil man. Their timeline is suggested as 120,000 years ago. However, from 90,000 – 35,000 BP, their remains are found among modern remains. A cave in Spain with Neanderthal fossils dated 300,000 years ago (before they should have existed) also contains skulls with modern features. His feeling is that “The scientific treatment of Neanderthals over most of the past century has been nothing short of scandalous.” [1]

Homo erectus – the “erect ape-man” considered to have lived from 650,000 to 250,000 years ago, with a brain capacity of 700 – 1,250 cc., large brow ridge, narrow temple, sloping forehead. Eugene Dubois discovered the first specimen in 1891, a skull in Java. A second skull two years later he placed with a femur found 45 feet away and named it Pithecanthropus erectus. In 1936 this fossil was found to be a giant gibbon, but scientists named it Homo erectus. Peking Man specimens found 1929 – 1935 in China, were never shown to the scientific world, and lost during WWII. In 1973, Richard Leakey found skull fragments which, when reassembled, was judged a Homo erectus. One erectus fossil discovered in Australia and reported in "Nature", an Australian publication, carbon-dates at 8,000 – 10,000 years. [2] An exciting find by Walker and Leakey was a 12-year-old male fossil by Lake Turkana, Kenya. At 5’6” with a modern skull, they classified him as Homo erectus since the fossil was dated at 1.6 million years. [3]

Australopithecus – “southern ape” includes three variants: A. robustus, looks like an ape, A. africanus, more delicate ape-like, and A. afarensis, upright walker ape-like, living 3 – 4 million years ago. With a brain capacity of 450 – 500 cc, these are of the type that evolutionist researchers believe to be man’s ancestor. The most famous is A. afarensis Lucy, found in 1975 by Donald Johanson. This fossil was decided to have walked upright from the reconstruction of the crushed end of a thigh bone and a knee joint found 250 feet lower in the strata. However, Zuckerman and Oxnard concluded from their studies that Australopithecines did not walk upright.

Last are the Homo habilis fossils, (handy man – tool user) discovered by Louis Leakey, including the famous Skull 1470 discovered in 1972 by son,Richard Leakey. Brain capacity is 500 – 800 cc, and looks more human than Australopithecus. Some consider this skull to be definitely ape, although several creationists thought this skull could indicate more evidence of true human remains deep in the geological strata. Several dates for Skull 1470 were researched and debated with lab work finessed to indicate anywhere between 3-4 million years to 1.82 million years depending on which branch of evolutionary development was favored. There is little evidence of tool use beyond what today’s chimpanzees use. [2]Duane Gish labels the Homo habilis as a “hominid,” one of several intermediates from ape to man. He states that according to many paleonanthropologists, the Homo habilis were varieties of australopithecines. [3] Another habilis fossil discovered by Tim White generated comment. His female fossil was only three feet tall, and had an ape-like skeleton like Lucy, who was supposed to have lived two million years earlier. A later find of its arm showed the long arm of a true ape. Gish points out that long curved fingers and toes indicate the purpose of branch swinging. Both Homo habilis and Austalopithecus have these appendages. [3] As Gish points out, Lucy is 3.8 million years old, White’s fossil is more modern although with ape-like arms, and younger by two million years, there is no change in the skeletal structure. Then a 12-year-old Homo erectus with a modern man’s skeletal structure and no further change in skeletal structure for 1.6 million years. This kind of dilemma for the evolutionist intrigues the creationist scientist.

Further Controversies

A recent development highlighted by A. W. (Bill) Mehlert, indicates that there is a movement within both evolutionist and creationist camps to re-classify Homo erectus fossils as truly human because of the Turkana ‘Boy’ discovery in 1984. Even evolutionists are arguing that there is not enough difference between erectus, archaic and modern sapiens and Neanderthals to separate them. Regarding Australopithecines and Habilines, creationists Gish, Lubenow, and Beasley believe they are extinct chimp-like pongids. Evolutionists Gherfas and Gribbin call them varieties of extinct pygmy chimpanzees and gorillas.

Turkana Boy

The Turkana ‘Boy,’ missing only hands and feet, is similar in cranial features to both Peking and Java fossils. With a brain capacity of 900 cc, and dated at 1.6 million years old, he fits within modern man’s variation. His skeletal structure is modern, his skull like that of Peking and Java. Another find, Skull KNM-ER 3733, dated 1.7 million years, has similar cranial features to Peking and Java with a capacity of 850 – 900 cc. These finds place Peking and Java as human, not large apes. Mehlert’s paper discusses whether these new finds show an evolutionary progression from the apes, or if erectus characteristics are explained by other factors such as lifestyle, diet, disease or climate. [1] He points out that the adult erectus cranial capacity is equivalent to modern humans, and with over 300 classified erectus fossils, he sites Pellegrino (1985) as stating that the evidence shows no evolutionary change, only stasis. [4]

To further this view, skulls found in Kow Swamp and Willandra Lakes, Mungo show Australian aboriginal brains of 1250 cc, with erectus features such as receding foreheads and large jaws. The funny part is that the Lake Mungo skulls are older but more ‘modern’ looking than the younger Kow Swamp erectus skulls. Why are erectus features continuing further in time? Other fossil finds sited by Mehlert are ‘robust,’ ‘primitive,’ that is, erectus, and yet they are fully human.

Custance has a well-researched view that Neanderthal and erectus features may actually be caused by the heavy use of the jaw, whereby the bone structure strengthens and thickens with use throughout the lifetime, and results in pulling the cranial structure and deforming it. [1]

Creationists use the evolutionist verbiage to make points regarding evolutionist thinking, but beyond that it doesn’t mean much. All human remains are classified as true humans, since the variations are so small, and our modern populations show similar variations as in the fossil record. The fossil record shows a wide gulf of differences between ape and man, the evolutionists are beginning to acknowledge it in at least some parts of their ape-to-man progression, and therefore the evidence is weighing in on the side of the Genesis record.

Fossils and the Flood

One of the questions today that plague evolutionists is: “Where are the transitional fossils?” There has not been one single transitional humanoid fossil found in all the years of searching. [5] Besides causing people to question evolution as fact, this raises a question for creationists : “Where are all the human fossils?” If Noah’s flood really did happen like the Bible says it did, then why don’t we find many human fossils mixed in with all the other fossils that were laid down by that catastrophic event? The answer: survival of the fittest. [5]

Impact of the Flood on Human Fossils

First of all, when you look at the fossils that have been found, 95% of the fossil record is marine invertebrates such as trilobites and clams. [6] Of the rest of the fossils, 95% of those are plants and in the remaining 5% we find amphibians, mammals, birds, and humans. [7] This record shows a pattern: the immobile water-dwelling animals are at the bottom, and the smarter and more mobile land-dwelling beings are at the top. This order can be explained by the different natural habitats of each organism at the time of the flood. When the “fountains of the deep” broke open, the immobile water-dwelling animals would be the first to be covered with sediments and fossilized. As the waters rose, man and the intelligent free-moving animals would have tried to get away to higher ground or, in the animals case, to the nearest cave. In order to survive, however, some humans would have built rafts or found other ways to float for a few weeks in order to survive. Unfortunately, these people would have either drowned or starved to death, their bodies floating on the top of the water; prey for predators both in the air and in the sea. [8]

Other factors that need to be taken into consideration when approaching this topic include the destruction of skeletons that were deposited in sedimentary layers, as well as how many people actually populated the earth’s surface at the time of Noah’s Flood. For those people that were buried, ground waters containing oxygen that had access to the bodies would have enacted a type of weathering on the bodies, by oxidizing and destroying those bodies. [7] Not only would this occur, but ground waters that also contained chemicals could have destroyed the buried bodies. Finally, igneous rock coming from below and forming volcanoes would have chemically changed or eradicated the fossils. [7]

Although it is impossible to know how many people were alive at the time of Noah’s Flood, John D. Morris from the Institute of Creation Research, proposed that: “For purposes of discussion, let us assume 300,000,000 people died in the Flood, and that each one was preserved as a fossil evenly distributed in the sedimentary record, which consists of about 300,000,000 cubic miles. The chances of such a fossil intersecting the earth's surface, being found by someone, and then being properly and honestly identified is vanishingly small.” [6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Homo erectus 'to' modern man: evolution or human variability? by A. W. (Bill) Mehlert, TJ 8(1):105–116, April 1994.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Man in His World: Fossil Men and Alleged Human Ancestors21 The Creation Explanation, The Parent Company.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Startling Discoveries Support Creationby Duane Gish, Ph.D.
  4. Pellegrino, C. R., 1985. Time-Gate, Hurtling Backward Through Time, TAB Books, Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, p. 120.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Where are the Human Fossils? by: Luke Myers
  6. 6.0 6.1 Why Don't We Find More Human Fossils?by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Where are all the human fossils?by Andrew A. Snelling, First published:Creation 14(1):28–33, December 1991.
  8. Where are all the human fossils? Excerpt from Creation Magazine, Dec. 91-Feb. 92, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 28-33. Supplied by Creation Ministries International

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