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Human evolution

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From Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863)

Human evolution is the theory that humans have evolved from an ape-like ancestor which descended from chimpanzees. In keeping with this view, both humans and apes have been assigned to the same taxonomic Family - Hominidae. However, most creationists would deny that humans have evolved in this manner, and instead believe that these ancient hominids were either fully ape or fully human. The two primary taxonomic genera of ape-men clearly delineate this distinction. With rare exception the taxonomic genus homo contains groups identified as true humans (as with Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo erectus), and those assigned to Australopithecus being true ape.

Peter Line summarizes the case of human evolution poignantly in the Journal of Creation:

The differences in morphological features of the fossil species included in Homo, excluding the invalid taxon Homo habilis, are believed to represent, among other factors, genetic variation within the one human kind...If fossils such as those categorized as Homo erectus and Neandertals were all fully human, then the case for human evolution essentially collapses, as there is an unbridgeable morphological gap between the australopithecine apes and these humans.[1]

Contents

Ape-man distinction

There are tremendous morphological distinctions between apes and mankind. These are predominantly due to the differences in cognitive ability (skull size), and the skeletal-muscular design permitting bipedal movement and balance in humans.

Most creationists argue that the reputed ape-man transitional forms, which are used to support human evolution, are actually distortions or exaggerations of fossil evidence. Three approaches may account for all of the attempts by evolutionists to fill the unbridged gap between apes and men with fossil apemen.

1. Combine ape fossil bones with human fossil bones and declare the two to be one individual—a real “apeman.”
2. Emphasize certain human-like qualities of fossilized ape bones, and with imagination upgrade apes to be more human-like.
3. Emphasize certain apelike qualities of fossilized human bones, and with imagination downgrade humans to be more apelike.[2]

Malcolm Bowden echoes this view:

It must be emphasised that where there is sufficient evidence, ALL skulls can be identified as being either ape or human. There are NO other classes, for they are all the imaginings of the evolutionary paleaoanthropologists who insist on concocting a string of links between man and apes. In order to fill this enormous gap, any ape skull is greatly enlarged and the fossil's 'human' features exaggerated (e.g. Pekin man and 'Lucy'), whilst human skulls are decreased and their 'ape' features are similarly emphasised (e.g. 1470 Man).[3]

To distinguish fossil apes from humans, Malcolm Bowden recommends using the following general characteristics. For a fossil skull to be identified as human it should have a fairly large brain capacity - over 1,000 cc's, and a mouth positioned almost vertically under the nose. Apes, by contrast, have a smaller brain capacity and a protruding muzzle. However, he warns that fossils and reconstructions are often interpreted and distorted to meet evolutionary expectations. It can be frequently found that ape skulls are 'adjusted' to look more human, and human skulls often rebuilt to emphasize 'ape-like' features.[3]

The following taxonomic divisions can be used as a general guide in identifying these reputed ape-men as either fully human or ape.

Speculative evolutionary diagram of Hominidae phylogeny based on the interpretation of skeletal remains.

Genus Homo

Main Article: Human

The genus homo is distinguished by their human-like skull, large brain size, and upright walking stance.

  • Homo sapiens = (Wise Man). Our species. Specimens dated as older tend to have smaller brain sizes, while still overlapping with the normal range of human brain sizes.
    • Cro-Magnon man (homo sapiens). A set of 4 home sapiens fossils found in a cave in France in 1868. The oldest fossils of homo sapiens known in Europe.
  • Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man).
  • Homo habilis = (Man with ability or handy man). The name "handy man" is given because of the evidence of the use of constructed stone tools with this species. Average brain size of 500-800cc. This taxon is regarded as invalid; being comprised of larger than average Australopithicines and smaller than average H. erectus fossils.[1]
  • Homo erectus = (Erect Man). Brain size 750-1225. Specimens dated as older have a smaller average brain size than ones dated more recently, and some scientists advocate placing the more recent larger brained specimens in to a separate species, homo ergaster.
    • Java Man (Homo erectus) A fossil skull cap, femur, and tooth whose identification has been controversial.
    • Peking Man (Homo erectus pekinensis) originally named Sinanthropus pekinensis
    • Turkana Boy is a well-preserved near complete skeleton
  • Homo ergaster (Working Man)
  • Homo antecessor (Explorer Man)
  • Homo heidelbergensis (Heidelberg Man)
  • Homo floresiensis (Flores Man — discovered 2003)
  • Homo rudolfensis (Rudolf Man - also regarded as invalid and just a type of Australopithecine.[4]
  • Homo rhodesiensis (Rhodesia Man)
  • Homo cepranensis (Ceprano Man)
  • Homo georgicus (Georgia Man)

Genus Australopithecus

Main Article: Australopithecine

The genus Australopithecus is distinguished by their very ape-like skull (thought the teeth are more human-like than chimpanzee-like), small brain size (between 375 and 550cc), and knuckle-walking stance.

  • Australopithecus afarensis = southern ape from Ethiopia. After years of controversy A. afarensis is now known to be aligned with gorillas by comparison of the ramus element in the jaw and the shoulder blades.
    • Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis)
  • Australopithecus africanus = southern ape from Africa. Gracile form with smaller jaws and teeth.
    • Taung Child (Australopithecus africanus)
    • Mrs. Ples (Australopithecus africanus)
  • Paranthropus robustus = southern ape, robust. More massive teeth and bony ridges (sagittal and supramastoid crests). (Formerly Australopithecus)
  • Paranthropus boisei = southern ape named after Charles Boise, Louis and Mary Leakey's financier. Formerly Zinjananthropus bosei (Zinj is ancient Arabic word for East Africa. (Formerly Australopithecus)
  • Ramapithecus - an Ancient ape fossil, considered most closely related to the orangutan.

Skull classification

Sculpture of Peking Man (Homo erectus) - outside the Zhoukoudian cave system in Beijing, China.

Malcolm Bowden further suggests that the following skulls should be provisionally reclassified as either Humans or Apes:[3]

HUMAN BONES — (Homo sapiens) APE FOSSILS
Java man's leg bones. Homo habilis
Vertesszollos skull fragment. Peking man skulls.
Swanscombe skull pieces. Piltdown jaw (modern fossil)
Fontechevade skull pieces. All Australopithecenes
1470 Man Australopithecus afarensis ('Lucy')
Piltdown skull Von Koenigswald's Pithecanthropus II, III and IV

(robustus)

Cro-Magnon Man
Peking man upper cave skulls.
Peking ten skeletons
Solo man
Dubois' Wadjak skulls
Rhodesian man
Chellean man's skull?
R. Leakey's KNMER 3733 skull
Kow Swamp Homo erectus skeletons
All Neanderthal skeletons
Laetolil (footprints)

Controversy

Splitters and lumpers

Although it would seem that evidence for human evolution is announced in the popular media with regularity, this is largely due to a practice known as taxonomic splitting. Evolutionary paleoanthropologists seek desperately to identify a true transitional form between man and apes, and much fame and prestige can be obtained from finding a new species of hominid. As a result, any fossil that is found with a minor variation is claimed by its discoverer to be a new species of ape-man. Concerns regarding the widespread practice of taxonomic splitting are summarized by Tim White, co-director of the Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. There’s been a recent tendency to give a different name to each of the fossils that comes out of the ground, and that has led to what we think is a very misleading portrayal of the biology of human evolution.[5] The above list is a summary of some of the species of humans declared from fossil evidence alone.

Geographic origin

Within evolutionary circles, there is much controversy regarding human origins. The multiregional theory and the out-of-Africa theory are two separate views debating the long-standing assertion that modern humans descended from H. neanderthalensis and H. erectus. The older of the two (now known as the multiregional view) holds that ancient hominids migrated from Africa throughout much of the world, where they evolved into Homo sapiens from distinct Homo erectus populations.[6] A more recently established model known as the Out of Africa theory (or African Replacement Hypothesis) rejects the view that these populations of Homo erectus evolved into Homo sapiens despite their very human-like qualities. Instead it is believe that Homo sapiens evolved only once (in Africa), and then migrated throughout Europe and Asia displacing the earlier forms that arrived there such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus. The theory received much support and acceptance in the early 1990s from research on mitochondrial DNA studies by Allan Wilson and Rebecca Cann which suggest that all humans ultimately descended from one female: the Mitochondrial Eve.[7].

Marvin Lubenow argues that this debate is shrouded in a strong desire by evolutionists to remove the stigma of racism, which the theory of human evolution has inspired since the 1800s.[8] The view that some human races were less "evolved" than others has given justification for some horrible atrocities, such as the massacres of Aboriginal Australians.[9] Additional scientific credibility for racist acts was provided by the dates that were assigned for the emergence of arachaic Homo sapiens fossils, which differ greatly from one continent to another. A. W. (Bill) Mehlert summarizes these dates in the Journal of Creation: "The earliest archaic sapiens appear in Europe (Germany and Greece) around 600–700 kya (Petralona and Mauer, Heidelberg), around 350 kya in France (Arago 21) and Germany (Steinheim). The earliest African archaic forms are Ndutu, Tanzania (at 450 kya) and Saldanha, South Africa (at about 300 kya). The Swanscombe female archaic skull from England dates from about 300 kya."[10]

Lubenow dedicates an entire chapter in Bones of Contention to addressing the sparse supporting evidence for the Out of Africa theory, and these politically correct justifications for its claims (read online). He summarizes the claims as offensive:

In the past, evolution was a "natural" to prove racial inequalities. Now evolution and genetics, via the out of Africa Model, are being used to "prove" human equality. I am offended by the fact that evolution, the most racist theory ever to gain acceptance by the scientific community in the last 150 years, is being given credit for "proving" human equality Human equality does not need to be proved. It needs to be accepted. It is an intrinsic part of God's creation. To credit evolution for it is an insult to the Creator.[11]

Ancestral relationships

Main Article: Recent controversy in hominid ancestry

Contrary to the claims of some Evolutionists, there is often fierce and heated debate in the scientific community over whether a new fossil discovery is indeed of the human lineage. As palaeontologist John de Vos of the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden puts it:

"'If you say 'I have something in the line of hominids', another palaeontologist will say you are wrong,' says palaeontologist John de Vos of the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, the Netherlands, the author of a 2008 article in the Journal of the History of Biology on scientific disagreements about Neanderthals, Homo erectus and Homo floresiensis... Building a family tree — or phylogeny — always includes some subjectivity: in addition to choosing which species to include, researchers must decide which characteristics of each species to include in the analysis, and then they must score each characteristic. For Ida, that might involve deciding which bones in the ear are relevant and comparing their shapes or relative sizes to those in other species.[12]
Over the past decade, a series of controversies have engulfed evolutionary theory, as an array of fossil discoveries have provided new knowledge on the human fossil record. However, these discoveries have been so controversial as to require even major publications to begin acknowledging, first in 2001 after the discovery of O. tugenensis, and climaxing in 2007 with the discovery that H. habilis and H. erectus coexisted, that the human evolutionary tree now looks like a "bush with many branches". One after another of the species previously labeled "missing links," ancestors of modern humans, have been conceded to be "offshoots" because of early complexity, as they are discovered to walk upright, coexist with other hominins, or prove similar to modern humans, rather than showing early similarity to apes.[Reference needed]
Composite Human Fossil Chart. Illustrates the comparable dates assigned to Homo erectus, anatomically modern Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Early African/Asian Homo sapiens. Also shown are Australopithecus and Homo habilis..[13]

A number of recently discovered species, which were supposed to be linear descendants of one another, were determined to actually coexist, and thus couldn't have evolved from one another. Homo erectus and Homo habilis both coexisted, Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy) and Australopithecus ramidus (Ardi) also both coexisted, and some brand new fossils were found to coexist with modern humans and Neanderthals, like Homo floresiensis ('Hobbit Man') and the Denisovans. Jonathan Sarfati reports on Marvin Lubenow's research that was published in Bones of Contention:

Marvin Lubenow shows that the various alleged ‘apemen’ do not form a smooth sequence in evolutionary ‘ages,’ but overlap considerably. For example, the timespan of Homo sapiens fossils contains the timespan of the fossils of Homo erectus, supposedly our ancestor. Also, when the various fossils are analyzed in depth, they turn out not to be transitional or even mosaic. The morphology overlaps too—the analysis of a number of characteristics indicates that Homo ergaster, H. erectus, H. neanderthalensis as well as H. heidelbergensis, were most likely ‘racial’ variants of modern man, while H. habilis and another specimen called H. rudolfensis were just types of australopithecines. In fact, H. habilis is now regarded as an invalid name, probably caused by assigning fragments of australopithecines and H. erectus fossils into this ‘taxonomic waste bin.’[4]

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, current dating of Australopiths, Ar. kaddaba and Ar. ramidus coexisted; A. afarensis, K. platyops, A. bahrelgazali, and A. africanus all coexisted; P. aethiopicus, A. africanus, A. garhi, H. habilis, and H. rudolfensis all coexisted; and A. sediba, P. boisei, H. rudolfensis, and H. habilis all coexisted as well.[14] A large number of hominins therefore coexisted and thus are 'offshoots' which could not have evolved from one another, resulting in a messy 'bush'. Rather than a nice orderly tree progression, they're living at the same times. Instead of having descended from one another, scientists now use the term offshoots, since as famous paleontologist Meave Leakey has noted, "Their co-existence makes it unlikely that Homo erectus evolved from Homo habilis.".[15]

The new research by famed paleontologist Meave Leakey in Kenya shows our family tree is more like a wayward bush with stubby branches, calling into question the evolution of our ancestors. The old theory was that the first and oldest species in our family tree, Homo habilis, evolved into Homo erectus, which then became us, Homo sapiens. But those two earlier species lived side-by-side about 1.5 million years ago in parts of Kenya for at least half a million years, Leakey and colleagues report in a paper published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature... Overall what it paints for human evolution is a 'chaotic kind of looking evolutionary tree rather than this heroic march that you see with the cartoons of an early ancestor evolving into some intermediate and eventually unto us,' Spoor said in a phone interview from a field office of the Koobi Fora Research Project in northern Kenya. (MSNBC 2007)[16]
A new discovery suggests that Homo erectus may not have evolved from Homo habilis—and that the two may have been contemporaries. The phrase 'family bush' doesn't trip off the tongue the way 'family tree' does, but anyone talking about human evolution had better get used to it. For years, scientists who study human origins have known that the simple model in which one human ancestor evolved into another in a nice, linear fashion is a myth. Instead, starting 4 million years ago, half a dozen species in the genus Australopithecus lived in Africa at the same time. Only one is our direct ancestor; the others were evolutionary dead ends, failed experiments. But experts thought that once the Homo lineage debuted about 2.5 million years ago in East Africa with Homo habilis, things settled down, with habilis evolving into Homo erectus who evolved into Homo sapiens—us—like biblical begats. Two fossils discovered in Kenya suggest that evolution was a lot messier than that. (Newsweek 2007)[17]

A number of new hominids have been discovered that are causing additional trouble for evolutionary theory. Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Orrorin tugenensis, and Ardipithecus ramidus (Ardi) now make for our three oldest hominin fossils. Trouble is, they are way too human-like, showing far more early complexity and similarity to modern humans, including evidence of early bipedalism, than was supposed to exist so far back in the human lineage. The discovery of such early bipedalism then led to the claim that A. afarensis (Lucy) and A. sediba also walked upright.[Reference needed] The prevailing theory that humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees is also in question due to recent research which revealed that the majority of Australopithicines and Habilines are more closely aligned with orangutans. This leaves humans without a plausible ancestor.[18]In addition, a chimp was discovered in 2005 that revealed that chimps lived east of the Rift Valley, which would play a role in the eventual abandonment of the famous Savannah Hypothesis that humans evolved without chimps because of leaving the African jungles for the savannahs (since chimps also left).[Reference needed]

Another discovery by Dr. Leakey challenged the prevailing view that the family tree had a more or less single trunk rising from ape roots to a pinnacle occupied by Homo sapiens. Yet here was evidence that the new species Kenyanthropus platyops co-existed with Lucy’s afarensis kin. The family tree now looks more like a bush with many branches. 'Just because there’s only one human species around now doesn’t mean it was always that way,' Dr. Grine said... Two even earlier specimens are even harder to interpret. One found in Kenya by a French team has been dated to six million years and named Orrorin tugenensis. The teeth and bone pieces are few, though the discoverers think a thigh fragment suggests that the individual was a biped — a walker on two legs. Another French group then uncovered 6.7-million-year-old fossils in Chad. Named Sahelanthropus tchadensis, the sole specimen includes only a few teeth, a jawbone and a crushed cranium... Other challenges arise from human evolution in more recent epochs. Just who were the 'little people' found a few years ago in a cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia? The Australian and Indonesian discoverers concluded that one partial skeleton and other bones belonged to a now-extinct separate human species, Homo floresiensis, which lived as recently as 18,000 years ago. (New York Times 2007) [19]

Discredited ape-men

1871 caricature of a Darwin-ape.

Piltdown Man

Main Article: Piltdown man

Piltdown Man was originally discovered by Charles Dawson in 1912, when he brought some alleged fossils to the National History Museum of London. The museum's Keeper of Geology, Smith Woodward, went with Dawson the site and found more specimens, including a jaw bone claimed as evidence of Eoanthropus Dawsoni, a missing link.[20] In 1912 the discovery became a media sensation, and was presented by Woodward and Dawson at the Geological Society of London.[21] For 40 years the allegedly 500,000 year-old fossil was upheld as a cornerstone of proof that humans came from apes.

According to Historian Richard Milner, "Piltdown Man was a really big deal in 1912, because it was a time when very little was known of human fossil remains. It was perceived to be the missing link, the fossil that connected humans with apes."[22] However, in 1953, the truth came out. Piltdown Man was a fraud; the skull of a modern man had been affixed to the jawbone of an ape.[23] As BBC News has put it, "Piltdown Man went from being one of the biggest discoveries of the 20th Century to being its greatest scientific embarrassment... Today, the word Piltdown is a term of abuse, used to label any fraudulent or shoddy research."[24]

Nebraska Man

A mysterious tooth was received by Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, head of the Department of Palaeontology at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, in 1922.[25] Heralded in some circles as evidence of a missing link, an extinct ape-man, it would prove instead to be the tooth of a Prosthennops, an extinct form of wild pig. While controversial, it was quickly found out as a fake, unlike Piltdown Man, and is not considered a weakness by supporters of evolution, as evidenced by the NSCE's claim that it reveals "the self-correcting feature of science".[26]

TalkOrigins, a pro-evolution website, disputes that Nebraska Man was ever widely accepted in the scientific community, emphasizing that it was publicized in the Illustrated London News, a popular magazine, not a scientific journal, and claims, "Nebraska Man should not be considered an embarrassment to science. The scientists involved were mistaken, and somewhat incautious, but not dishonest."[27]

Summary

Marvin Lubenow summarizes the facts of the human fossil record in Bones of Contention:

First, fossils that are indistinguishable from modern humans can be traced all the way back to 4.5 m.y.a., according to the evolution time scale. That suggests that true humans were on the scene before the australopithecines appear in the fossil record.

Second, Homo erectus demonstrates a morphological consistency throughout its two-million-year history. The fossil record does not show erectus evolving from something else or evolving into something else.

Third, anatomically modern Homo sapiens, Neandertal, archaic Homo sapiens, and Homo erectus all lived as contemporaries at one time or another. None of them evolved from a more robust to a more gracile condition. In fact, in some cases (Neandertal and archaic Homo sapiens) the more robust fossils are the more recent fossils in their respective categories.

Fourth, all of the fossils ascribed to the Homo habilis category are contemporary with Homo erectus. Thus, Homo habilis not only did not evolve into Homo erectus, it could not have evolved into Homo erectus.

Fifth, there are no fossils of Australopithecus or of any other primate stock in the proper time period to serve as evolutionary ancestors to humans. As far as we can tell from the fossil record, when humans first appear in the fossil record they are already human. It is this abrupt appearance of our ancestors in morphologically human form that makes the human fossil record compatible with the concept of special creation. [28]

News

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Fossil evidence for alleged apemen—Part 1: the genus Homo by Peter Line, Journal of Creation 19(1):22–32, April 2005.
  2. Menton, David. The New Answers Book,Chapter 8: Did Humans Really Evolve from Apelike Creatures? February 25, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Homo Erectus — A Fabricated Class of 'Ape-Men' by Malcolm Bowden, Journal of Creation, Vol.3, 1988, pp. 152-153.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sarfati, Jonathan. Refuting Evolution 2 Chapter 12 - Argument: Evolution of mankind. Greenforest AR: Master Books, 2002. (p188-189)
  5. Skull wars: new ‘Homo erectus’ skull in Ethiopia by Carl Wieland, Creation Ministries International. March 22, 2002.
  6. Multiregional Hypothesis About.com Guide, Accessed May 14, 2012.
  7. Out of Africa Hypothesis About.com Guide, Accessed May 14, 2012.
  8. Lubenow, p194
  9. List of massacres of Indigenous Australians Wikipedia, Accessed May 15, 2012.
  10. Homo erectus 'to' modern man: evolution or human variability? by A. W. (Bill) Mehlert, Journal of Creation 8(1):105–116, April 1994.
  11. Lubenow, p195
  12. Larsen, Lucas (2010, September 29). Paleontologists Go to Bat for Ida. Nature.
  13. Lubenow, Marvin. Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1992. p. 336
  14. "Australopithecus." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/44115/Australopithecus>.
  15. Urquhart, James (2007, August 8).Finds Test Human Origins Theory. BBC News.
  16. Borenstein, Seth (2007, August 8).Fossils Paint Messy Picture of Human Origins. Associated Press.
  17. Begley, Sharon L. (2007, August 7).The Human Family Shrub?. Newsweek.
  18. Humans related to orangutans, not chimps PhysOrg.com, June 18, 2009.
  19. Wilford, John (2007, June 26). The Human Family Tree Has Become a Bush With Many Branches. New York Times.
  20. Levy, Glen (2010, March 16). Top 10 Shocking Hoaxes: Piltdown Man.Time Magazine.
  21. Bell, Rachel. The Piltdown Man Hoax and Mystery.TruTV.
  22. PBS.The Boldest Hoax. NOVA.
  23. Oakley, K.F. & Weiner, J.S. (1955, October ).Piltdown Man. In American Scientist. British Museum (Natural History) and University of Oxford.
  24. BBC News. The Unmasking of Piltdown Man.
  25. Foley, Jim (2003, April 30). 'Nebraska Man' Revisited. Answers In Genesis.
  26. Wolf, John & Mellett, James S. (1985). The Role of 'Nebraska Man' in the Creation-Evolution Debate. In Creation-Evolution Journal. Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 31-43. National Center for Science Education.
  27. Foley, Jim (2003, April 30). Creationist Arguments: Nebraska Man. TalkOrigins.
  28. Lubenow, p. 332.

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