Paleoanthropology is a specialized branch of physical anthropology and paleontology involved with the study of ancient human beings. Paleoanthropologists investigate the origin and subsequent evolution of humanity by examining fossil remains and other ancient evidence. Evolution-based paleoanthropology holds that humanity evolved from ape-like ancestors, and therefore the subdiscipline frequently includes the study of living and extinct primates. By contrast, Biblical creation-based paleoanthropology holds that humanity was created by God as described in the book of Genesis.
Secular paleontologists assert that hominids began evolving from other primates starting around 8 million to 6 million years ago. Evidence of hominid activity between 8 and 2.5 million years ago usually only consists of bone remains available for study. Because of this very incomplete picture of the time period from the fossil record, various aspects of physical anthropology (osteometry, functional anatomy, evolutionary framework) are essential to explain evolution during these first millions of years. Evolution during this time is considered as the result of natural forces only.
Creation paleontologists look to the Bible for insight into human history. The creation account in the book of Genesis tells us that humans and all land animals were created on the same day. This is in stark contrast to the assertions of evolutionary paleontology, which holds that hominids were evolving over millions of years and Homo sapiens only appearing a few hundred thousand years ago.. The creation account also reveals that human beings are distinct from the animals and uniquely formed in the image of God.
Biblical paleoanthropology is concerned with two separate periods of human civilization: the humans living before the global flood and those that lived following. The book of Genesis begins with an account of the original world and its civilization that no longer exist. Details regarding this first civilization are minimal, except for a terse genealogy, accounts of men like Enoch, and reference to a mysterious race known as the Nephilim. Genesis reports that this original antediluvian civilization became intensely wicked and for this was destroyed by a global flood sent by God about 4500 years ago. No verified fossil evidence of this preflood human civilization has been found and it doubtful that any trace survived the devastation.
One very important distinction between the pre and post flood human beings was their longevity. Prior to the flood, Genesis 5 records that people lived extraordinarily long lives: routinely over 900 years. Methuselah is known for living longer than any other human in history, dying at the age of 969. This longevity is believed to be so extraordinarily long in part because environmental conditions were optimal for longevity before the Earth was destroyed, perhaps maintained by a dense atmosphere which collapsed during the flood. After the flood, the lengthy human lifespans gradually declined to over several generations. This Biblical insight offers an explanation for the robust human morphology seen in some post flood groups such as the Neanderthals and Homo erectus.
Origin of Races
Subsequent to the flood, Genesis 10 records the Table of Nations; a genealogical record that names and describe a number of individuals that established early civilizations. The account is by no means exhaustive, but does name people who are reputed to have established Egypt, Greece, Canaan, and Sheba, as well as cities such as Tyre.
The key post-flood Biblical event that factors into the development of human races and language is the Tower of Babel. According to Genesis 11 , all humans spoke the same language immediately following the global flood. Those who migrated to the east and settled in the land of Shinar decided to build a city and a great tower out of baked bricks to make a name for themselves. It may be argued that because there is no archaeological evidence of buildings from antediluvian civilizations, the Tower of Babel was the first major monument ever built of which any evidence might remain.
God intentionally scattered mankind to retard their technological advancement by confusing their speech. The origin of the various root languages is presumably linked to this event. God apparently created several unique languages to scatter humans throughout the world. This action almost speciated humans into several groups allowing physical differences to develop. All human ancestry traces back to Noah and his family only 4500 years ago, and then even further back to Adam and Eve. We are all close relatives, and the differences that distinguish the human races should be considered superficial at best.
Jonathan Sarfati comments on the relation of these post Babel humans to so called "cave men".
|“||Also, some people groups would be isolated from civilization. Consider even the typical small extended family group today, if suddenly isolated from civilization, e.g., on a desert island. Many such groups would not have the ability to smelt metals or build houses. Therefore, they would have to use the hardest material available (stone) and make use of already-existing structures (caves). Different family groups would also have different levels of artistic ability. So it shouldn’t be too difficult to accept that humans such as Homo erectus and Neandertals were probably post-Babel humans who became isolated from major cities, and developed certain physical characteristics because certain genes became fixed due to the small population and selective factors. The notion of a ‘stone age’ is fallacious—rather, it’s a cave/stone technology stage of different people groups. Some people even today have this level of technology, but they live at the same time as us, and are just as human.||”|
- Main Article: Human evolution
Evolutionists believe that humans evolved from an ape-like ancestors that descended from chimpanzees, and assign both humans and apes to the same taxonomic Family - Hominidae. Most creationists would deny that humans have evolved in this manner, and instead believe that these ancient hominids were either fully ape or fully humans. The two primary taxonomic genera of ape-men clearly delineate this distinction. With rare exception the taxonomic genus homo contain groups identified as true humans (as with Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo erectus), and those assigned to Australopithecus being true ape.
Dr. David Menton states that there are three approaches that account for all of the attempts by evolutionists to fill the unbridgeable 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 humanlike qualities of fossilized ape bones, and with imagination upgrade apes to be more humanlike.
3. Emphasize certain apelike qualities of fossilized human bones, and with imagination downgrade humans to be more apelike.
|“||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.||”|
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. The following is a summary of some of the species of humans declared from fossil evidence alone.
- Neanderthals smarter than previously believed New dating method shows famous paintings were created at the time of the cavemen, not Homo sapiens. The Vancouver Sun, June 15, 2012.
- Neanderthal-Heidelberg Distinction Blurs “Heidelberg Man” fossils appear to overlap with Neanderthals. Creation Evolution Headlines, June 14, 2012.
- New Hominid Species Not A Missing Link, Scientists Say Doubt over claims that we descended from new species and disagreement about how close a cousin it was. Inside Science News Service Apr 8, 2010.
- "Key" Human Ancestor Found: Fossils Link Apes, First Humans? Australopithecus sediba had human-like face and could walk well upright but was apelike in other ways. National Geographic News, April 8, 2010.
- Fossil Skeletons May Be Human Ancestor Newly discovered australopithecine discovered in a cave in Africa. LiveScience, April 8 2010.
- Man's earliest direct ancestors looked more apelike than previously believed "Dr. Leakey produced a biased reconstruction based on erroneous preconceived expectations of early human appearance that violated principles of craniofacial development." EurekAlert, March 24, 2007
- Earliest hominid: Not a hominid at all? The earliest known hominid fossil, which dates to about 7 million years ago, is actually some kind of ape, according to an international team of researchers led by the University of Michigan. The finding, they say, suggests scientists should rethink whether we actually descended from apes resembling chimpanzees, which are considered our closest relatives. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. June 19, 2006
- Evidence that human brain evolution was a special event Howard Hughes Medical Institute, December 28, 2004.
- The evolution and development of cranial form in Homo sapiens - "Despite much data, there is no unanimity over how to define Homo sapiens in the fossil record." PNAS, January 22, 2002 (Bold emphasis added)
- Introduction to Paleoanthropology/Definition Wikibooks, Accessed September 26, 2011.
- Homo erectus 'to' modern man: evolution or human variability? by A. W. (Bill) Mehlert, Journal of Creation 8(1):105–116, April 1994.
- Genesis 1:1-31
- Sarfati, Jonathan. Refuting Evolution 2 Chapter 12 - Argument: Evolution of mankind. Greenforest AR: Master Books, 2002. p192
- Menton, David. The New Answers Book,Chapter 8: Did Humans Really Evolve from Apelike Creatures? February 25, 2010.
- Fossil evidence for alleged apemen—Part 1: the genus Homo by Peter Line, Journal of Creation 19(1):22–32, April 2005.
- Skull wars: new ‘Homo erectus’ skull in Ethiopia by Carl Wieland, Creation Ministries International. March 22, 2002.
- Paleoanthropology by Conservapedia
- Early Man by Creation Science
- The Ape-Men
- Early Man by Sean D. Pitman, M.D.
- Paleoanthropology Links Talk.Origins Archive
- The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin 1871
- The Puzzle of Ancient Man book by Donald Chittick
- The Puzzle of Ancient Man Seminar by Donald Chittick recorded in 2004 at the Seattle Creation Conference.