Anatomy
The structure of living things, or the scientific study of those structures.
Fossil Record
Fossils preserved in layers of rock that scientists use to study the history of life.
Human Evolution
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: Is there concrete evidence of the evolution of humans? Can we follow prehistoric bones to a monkey-like ancestor? Maybe Creation is a theory worth considering.
 
 

Human evolution is a contentious subject. Unfortunately, the discussion is centered more on opinions than the facts we can see in the fossil record.

Evolutionary human lineage is based on a scarce sampling of fossils. Since humans tend to live in large groups, why have so few fossils been found? There are countless legends of master civilizations and lost continents in global folklore. Could it be that most of the human fossils are in Atlantis, now buried under sediment at the bottom of the ocean?

Most of the speculation on human evolution is based on small apelike fossils called Australopithecines. The famous fossil Lucy, discovered in Ethiopia in 1972, is part of this group. Another fossil group is the archaic Homo sapiens, or Neanderthals.

While these fossils may appear to be ancient humans, we must remember that all primates existed at the same time. Humans, Australopithecines, and Neanderthals all lived on Earth simultaneously. Therefore, these other fossil groups cannot be our ancestral line.

Australopithecines

A cast of Lucy's bones. Johanssen is famous for finding and describing Lucy as an...

As research continues, fossils are being removed from the human ancestral line. For example, Lucy and other Australopithecines were said to walk upright, leading to the conclusion that they are human ancestors. However, Australopithecines had curled toes and the same knuckle-walking anatomy as chimpanzees and gorillas.i Also, the shape of their ear canals and their long, curved fingers and toes show that they could not have walked upright.

Footprints were found in Laetoli, Tanzania that were supposedly made by Australopithecines. However, Dr. Russell Tuttle concluded that the prints from Laetoli are identical to those made by humans who habitually walk barefoot. Considering that humans and Australopithecines lived at the same time, it is logical to conclude that humans made the prints.

There is no evidence that Lucy and her kind were not simply apes. Lucy’s status in the human ancestral line is based on arm-to-leg length ratios that are midway between those of apes and of humans. However, the bones available for the study are so fragmented that this ratio cannot be properly measured.

Lucy’s hip is apelike, not like a human hip. To argue this, scientists claim that Lucy’s hip is distorted from its original shape. However, no one can prove this, as there is no undistorted hip to compare it with. Also, the knee in the Lucy fossil is used to prove that Australopithecines walked upright, but it was not even found with Lucy.

Neanderthals

The Neanderthal fossil is simply a human fossil. It has brain capacity larger than that of humans today. The fossil shows evidence of bone deformity produced by rickets. Any human who is aged and diseased will have the hunched posture and bone features that the Neanderthal fossils do.

Where on Earth did Humans Originate?

There has been an ongoing debate about where humans originated. Some say we originated in Asia, others say it was in Africa. Still others hold the view that humans originated in both places at the same time. The evidence, however, shows that humans spread out from an area midway between Africa and Asia, making the Biblical story scientifically plausible.

Key Controversies in the Field

Anthropologist Roger Lewin says that the confusion about human origins is fueled by competition among researchers. Lewin’s book Bones of Contention: Controversies in the search for human origins cites eight main controversies in the field:

The skull of the Tuang child.
GNU Licence by Gerbil: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Taung_child_(Frankfurt_am_Main)_2.jpg...

 

  1. The Taung child in South Africa. This fossil was once rejected as a human ancestor. It has since been accepted.

  2. The Piltdown Hoax. A human skull and Orangutan’s jaw were altered to make evolution look credible.

  3. The Nebraska Man. In 1917, geologist Harold Cook found a tooth. Scientists believed it was from an undiscovered ape, an ancestor of humans. However, in 1925 scientists discovered that the tooth actually belonged to an extinct pig.

  4. Neanderthals. The original descriptions of the Neanderthal fossils were distorted to make the fossils seem more primitive than they are.

  5. Ramapithecus. This species was once considered a human ancestor, but is now known only as a relative of the orangutan.

  6. East African Volcanic Dating. There is a heated debate over the age of a volcanic layer that is associated with human fossils in East Africa.

  7. Australopithecines. Paleoanthropologists Richard Leakey and Donald Johanson disagree on where the newer Lucy-type finds were located.

  8. The Force of Change. There are ongoing conflicts about whether predation, hunting, or cooperation caused human evolution.

 

Lewin says this about the theory of human evolution:

In the physical realm, any theory of human evolution must explain how it was that an apelike ancestor, equipped with powerful jaws and long, daggerlike canine teeth and able to run at speed on four limbs, became transformed into a slow, bipedal animal whose natural means of defense were at best puny. Add to this the power of intellect, speech, and morality, upon which we “stand raised as upon the mountain top” as Huxley put it, and one has the complete challenge to the evolutionary theory.ii

Read Genes of Genesis for a look at the microscopic side of the evolution-Creation debate.

 


 

i. Nature (March 23, 2000): 339-340, 382-385.

ii. Roger Lewin, Bones of Contention: Controversies in the search for human origins (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987) 312-313.

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