the ape-ancestry myth
Feb 2004, Sep 2014
Part 1 of 3
1. Darwinian claims and controversies
2. Genetic tales: Adam and Eve
3. Suppressed evidence of human antiquity
4. Giants and wildmen
5. Anatomy and origins
6. Theosophy: fallen angels, fallen apes
1. Darwinian claims and controversies
According to mainstream science, humans are evolved apes who, as a result of random genetic mutations and environmental pressures, happened to acquire the unique power of selfconsciousness. However, the loud publicity and slick propaganda for the ape-ancestry theory cannot alter the fact that the evidence is scanty and contradictory and open to other interpretations.
Anthropologist Richard Leakey has said that ‘If someone went to the trouble of collecting together in one room all the fossil remains so far discovered of our ancestors (and their biological relatives) who lived, say, between five and one million years ago, he would need only a couple of large trestle tables on which to spread them out.’1 Most hominid fossils are fragments of jaws and scraps of skulls but, as palaeontologist Stephen J. Gould once said, ‘they serve as a basis for endless speculation and elaborate storytelling’.2
Beliefs, expectations and prejudices inevitably play a role in the interpretation of fossils, as do personal rivalries and the desire for fame. More than one palaeoanthropologist has become famous overnight by announcing sensational and extravagant claims after finding some fragmentary remains of a creature he or she believes to be related to human origins. But such claims have a habit of being undermined or invalidated by further research and discoveries. The details of our supposed descent from the apes remain obscure and are the subject of heated debate among evolutionists.
A number of blunders in the interpretation of fossils have been made over the years. In 1922 a tooth was discovered in western Nebraska (USA), which was declared by several scientists to combine the characteristics of the chimpanzee, Pithecanthropus (a postulated apeman) and humans. He became popularly known as Nebraska man and was regarded by some as a potential human ancestor. Five years later, it was announced that the tooth actually belonged to a pig. Creationist scientist Duane Gish remarks: ‘This is a case in which a scientist made a man out of a pig, and the pig made a monkey out of the scientist!’3
Fig. 1.1. Nebraska man – according to an artist’s wild imagination.
The first skeleton of a Neanderthal was unearthed in 1856. He was originally depicted as an ugly, brutish half-monster with short bow-legs and a shuffling, stooping gait, and regarded as intermediate between humans and apes. A century later, a close examination of the skeleton revealed that it was that of an old man crippled with osteoarthritis and rickets. It is now recognized that the Neanderthals walked upright as we do. In fact, ‘If we were to put a cardigan sweater on a Neanderthal and stick a pipe in his mouth and then were to have him walk across the campus of one of our major universities he could quite easily be mistaken for a professor of paleontology.’4
In 1983 palaeoanthropologist Tim White accused another scientist, Noel Boaz, of having mistaken a dolphin’s rib for a clavicle (shoulder bone) of a pygmy chimpanzee, and jested that the fossil should be designated Flipperpithecus. Boaz had even suggested that the curve of the bone might indicate habitual bipedalism. Anthropologists have also erroneously described the femur (thighbone) of an alligator and the toe of a three-toed horse as clavicles. In May 1984 it was announced that a skull fragment found in Spain a year earlier and hailed by experts as the oldest human fossil ever found in Europe may have come from a four-month-old donkey. A symposium organized to discuss the fossil was hastily cancelled.5
Even outright fraud is not unknown in the minefield of human origins. In 1912 a jawbone and part of a skull were discovered in a gravel pit near Piltdown, England. The jawbone appeared very simianlike except for the teeth, which showed the type of wear expected for humans. The skull was very humanlike. The specimens were combined into a single individual, who became known as Piltdown man. He was judged to be about half a million years old, and regarded as an authentic link in the evolution of humans. In 1950 a new test revealed that the jawbone contained practically no fluoride, suggesting it was very recent. The skull did have a significant amount of fluoride, but was estimated to be only a few thousand years old. It was then discovered that the bones had been treated with iron salts to make them look old, and scratch marks were detected on the teeth, indicating that they had been filed. In other words, Piltdown man was a fraud. A modern ape’s jaw and a human skull had been doctored to resemble an apeman, and the forgery had fooled most of the world’s greatest experts. Debate on who was responsible for the fraud continues to this day.
Primates and hominoids
Modern man, Homo sapiens (‘wise man’), is placed in the order Primates, one of the 24 orders of mammals. Primates have traditionally been divided into two groups: prosimians (lemurs, lorises, tarsiers) and simians/anthropoids (monkeys and apes). All primates share certain characteristics, such as highly developed binocular vision, mobile fingers and toes with flat nails instead of claws, a shortened snout with a reduced sense of smell, and large brains relative to body size. Darwinists interpret these similarities as evidence that all primates have descended from a common ancestor.
The earliest primate fossils date to the late Palaeocene, but genetic evidence is interpreted to mean that primates diverged from other mammals around 85 million years ago in the upper Cretaceous. The origin of the primates is shrouded in mystery. They supposedly evolved from a primitive insect-eating mammal, but there are no transitional forms connecting primates to insectivores. The ancestor was thought to be the tree shrew, but there is now abundant evidence that tree shrews are unrelated to primates. The fossil record fails to produce any evidence for transitional forms between prosimians, the earliest primates, and the New World and Old World monkeys, and there are also no identifiable transitional forms between monkeys and apes – only a large gap.1
Science Theosophy Began (years BP) Began (years BP) Phanerozoic eon Cenozoic era Quaternary period: Holocene epoch 11,700 Pleistocene 2,588,000 1,090,000 Tertiary period: Pliocene epoch 5,333,000 1,870,000 Miocene 23,030,000 3,670,000 Oligocene 33,900,000 5,280,000 Eocene 56,000,000 7,130,000 Palaeocene 66,000,000 7,870,000 Mesozoic era Cretaceous 145,000,000 16,000,000 Jurassic 201,300,000 28,000,000 Triassic 252,170,000 44,000,000 Palaeozoic era Permian 298,900,000 74,000,000 Carboniferous 358,900,000 110,000,000 Devonian 419,200,000 148,000,000 Silurian 443,400,000 179,000,000 Ordovician 485,400,000 214,000,000 Cambrian 541,000,000 250,000,000 Proterozoic eon (Laurentian)
(start of 4th round)
Middle 1,600,000,000 720,000,000 Early 2,500,000,000 Archean eon Neoarchean 2,800,000,000 1,300,000,000 Mesoarchean 3,200,000,000 Palaeoarchean 3,600,000,000 Eoarchean 4,000,000,000 Hadean eon 4,600,000,000 2,170,000,000
Fig. 1.2. Chronology of the geological ages. All the dates given in this article are official ‘scientific’ dates unless indicated otherwise. According to theosophy, the scientific time-periods are too long by a factor of between about 2 and 9, due to the false assumptions on which radiometric dating is based.2
Within the order Primates, humans, apes and their alleged ancestors are classified within the superfamily Hominoidea (hominoids), which is divided into two main branches: the gibbons, or lesser apes; and the hominids, or great apes. The hominoids (which have no tails) are said to have diverged from the monkeys (which have tails) about 25 million years ago. There are four modern genera of hominids: orangutans (Pan), gorillas (Gorilla), chimpanzees (Pan), and humans (Homo). The ape-ancestry theory does not propose that humans descended directly from the living apes, but that both modern apes and humans descended from a common apelike ancestor.
The first apelike creatures appeared in the Oligocene, while the first apes thought to be on the line to humans appeared in the Miocene. The two main groups of fossil ape considered to be relevant to later hominid evolution are: Graecopithecus (‘Greek ape’), apes with thick-enamelled teeth occupying seasonal habitats and having a semiterrestrial lifestyle; and Dryopithecus (‘oak ape’), apes with thin-enamelled teeth living in subtropical forests and with below-branch suspensory locomotion.3 There is disagreement on which group is closer to human ancestry. The widespread view that Dryopithecus is linked to human ancestry has been challenged on the grounds that although the dryopithecines had a far less specialized anatomy than modern apes, they were still too specialized to have given rise to the hominins (the tribe of hominids that supposedly led to man).4 Chris Stringer comments:
With so much new material, it might be thought that Dryopithecus would be both the best known fossil ape and the one with the clearest evolutionary affinities. The former is certainly true, but there is actually more disagreement over what its evolutionary position is than there is for any other fossil ape.5
Contrary to the impression created by the fanciful illustrations that decorate popular science publications, a smooth series of fossils leading from an apelike common ancestor to humans on the one hand and present-day apes on the other has not been found. For nearly 50 years, based on jaw fragments and a few teeth, palaeoanthropologists insisted that Ramapithecus (or Sivapithecus), which lived between 16.6 and 5.3 million years ago, was an intermediate between apes and humans. However, it is now generally believed to be an ancestor of the orangutan, though the fact that Sivapithecus was partly adapted for ground-living whereas the orangutan lives in the trees is considered ‘puzzling’.6 Another creature that was once proposed as a ‘missing link’ is Oreopithecus (‘swamp ape’), which lived from 11.6 to 3.6 million years ago, but it has since been demoted. Palaeontologist David Pilbeam has commented: ‘Oreopithecus has had quite a checkered history and has been described as a monkey, ape, hominid and even pig!’7
Before the rise of evolutionary genetics, estimates for the date of the split between hominins and other apes ranged from 4 to 30 million years ago, with most fossil experts choosing a date somewhere in the middle. However, since the early 1960s, various molecular techniques have been developed for determining when two species shared a common ancestor. They involve quantifying the amount of difference between particular molecules or proteins in the two species, together with the rate of evolution in the molecule concerned (which is assumed to be constant). The various ‘molecular clocks’ are often calibrated on the basis of a date of 30 million years for the alleged split between Old World monkeys and hominoids, a date based on ‘fossil evidence’ and radiometric dating.8
These studies led to the conclusion that African apes and humans diverged between about 6 and 8 million years ago, with some giving a date as low as 4 million years or as high as 10 million years, depending on which regions of the genome are compared. One of the researchers involved even declared that ‘one no longer has the option of considering a fossil older than about eight million years as a hominid no matter what it looks like’!9 After much contentious debate, palaeoanthropologists have accepted this shortened timescale for human evolution. But as Chris Stringer points out: ‘The exact nature of the last common ancestor we shared with chimpanzees remains uncertain ...’10
Australopithecus and other ‘ancestors’
Physical characteristics distinguishing hominins from other hominids include erect posture, bipedal locomotion, rounded skulls, larger brains and small teeth (including unspecialized canines). (‘Hominin’ now has the same meaning that ‘hominid’ used to have.) Hominins include not only our own species, Homo sapiens, but also more primitive human forms belonging to the genus Homo, and partially bipedal apes belonging mostly to the genus Australopithecus (‘southern ape’). All hominin species except our own are now generally believed to be extinct.
Arranging the various species into an evolutionary sequence has become increasingly difficult as more fossils have been found. Anthropologists Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar write:
Paleoanthropological discoveries make it clear that the human family tree is not a single lineage in which one species succeeded another, leading relentlessly to the appearance of modern humans. Instead, the hominid fossil record suggests that our ancestry is better thought of as a bush, with the branches representing a number of bipedal species that evolved along different evolutionary lines.1
In 2002 the Toumaï skull, 6 to 7 million years old, was found in Chad, in the southern Sahara desert, and the species was named Sahelanthropus tchadensis. It had apelike features such as a small brain, sloping face, prominent brow ridges, and elongated skull, and humanlike features such as small canine teeth, a short middle part of the face, and a spinal cord opening underneath the skull instead of towards the back as seen in non-bipedal apes. However, its bipedality is disputed and no postcranial remains (i.e. bones below the skull) have yet been discovered.2 While some evolutionists believed that ‘bipedalism is the diagnostic criterion for the evolutionary departure of the human tribe from apes’, other researchers have pointed out that primates with skeletal remains indicating bipedalism should not automatically be assumed to be human ancestors.3 Sahelanthropus has been described as a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, a direct human ancestor but not a chimpanzee ancestor, and an ancestral relative of the chimpanzees or gorillas.4 If Toumaï is accepted a direct human ancestor, its facial features would tend to demolish the australopithecines’ current status as human ancestors, because its thickened brow ridges are similar to those of some later fossil hominids (notably Homo erectus), whereas australopithecines lack this feature. Palaeoanthropologist Bernard Wood remarked: ‘If the new find has taught us anything it is that, paradoxically, the more we discover about our origins, the less we know.’5
Fig. 1.3. The Toumaï skull.
In 2000, bones of a creature named Orrorin tugenensis (also known as Millennium Man), dated at about 6 million years, were found in Kenya by a French and Kenyan research team. They argued that it was ancestral to Homo through Praeanthropus (a name used to refer to Australopithecus afarensis by those who do not consider it ancestral to later australopithecines). Their dismissal of the australopithecines as a whole as a dead-end side-branch is very controversial, and their claim that Orrorin was bipedal is widely regarded as premature.6 The teeth of Orrorin have thick enamel, like Sahelanthropus, later hominins and many species of fossil apes, but the canine is large and pointed like those of apes – the opposite of what is seen in Sahelanthropus and later hominins. The femur (thighbone) has a larger head than in later Pliocene hominins, a character that has been claimed as evidence of bipedalism, but it is also found in similar sized fossil apes and in chimpanzees.7
Bones of Ardipithecus kadabba were found in deposits in Ethiopia dated to 5.8-5.2 million years ago, while Ardipithecus ramidus is dated to 4.4-4.2 million years ago. Both species have many apelike characters, but according to Chris Stringer, these are probably ‘primitive retentions’ that ‘do not of themselves indicate that the species were apes rather than hominins’. He adds that ‘the lack of unambiguous characters shared with later hominins, in particular the limited evidence for bipedality, must raise questions about the position of Ardipithecus in human evolution’; its divergent big toe excludes habitual bipedality.8 Its foramen magnum (the hole at the base of a skull through which the spinal cord passes) is situated farther forward than in any other hominid, and Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey Schwartz argue that such a position ‘is so uniquely derived compared with every one of its presumed descendants that it couldn’t have been ancestral to any of them’.9 The discoverers of Orrorin tugenensis believe that Ardipithecus was a descendant of Orrorin but was ancestral to chimpanzees rather than humans.
The australopithecines lived from about 4½ million to 1 million years ago. They were predominantly apelike, stood between 1 and 1.5 m tall and had a small braincase ranging from 370 to 515 cc, not very different from that of living apes. They showed some human features in their jaws and teeth – e.g. their front teeth, including the canines, were relatively small compared with those of apes. Their hip and leg bones are said to indicate that they regularly walked upright, but some species show features such as relatively long arms and curved finger and toe bones, indicating that they still spent time in the trees. The official view is that the australopithecines lived only in Africa, but some scientists have reported australopithecines from China, Indonesia and Southeast Asia.10
Cranial capacities of extant and extinct hominids11
Gorilla 340-752 cc Chimpanzee 275-500 cc Australopithecus 370-515 cc (avg. 457 cc) Homo habilis avg. 552 cc Homo erectus 850-1250 cc (avg. 1016 cc) Neanderthals 1100-1700 cc (avg. 1450 cc) Homo sapiens 800-2200 cc (avg. 1345 cc )
The ‘robust’ australopithecines (which include the species: robustus, boisei and aethiopicus) are not thought to be on a direct line of descent to modern humans, and some palaeoanthropologists assign them to a separate genus, Paranthropus. They survived about 1½ million years longer than the gracile forms and had a pelvis better adapted for climbing than for walking.12 The ‘gracile’ australopithecines (notably africanus, afarensis or garhi) are widely thought to have given rise to the earliest Homo species around 2.5 million years ago.
Fig. 1.4. Australopithecus africanus (left) and Australopithecus robustus.13
There is vigorous debate on the status of the various species of Australopithecus. For instance, some scientists believe that the fossils assigned to afarensis and those assigned to anamensis really belong to several species. Some see africanus as a regional variation or subspecies of afarensis, some consider it to be a descendant of afarensis, and some believe the africanus fossil material should be assigned to two completely different species. Some doubt whether afarensis properly belongs to Australopithecus.14 Australopithecus garhi is various regarded as a distinct species, a late variant of afarensis, or a variant of africanus.15
Fig. 1.5. Left: Australopithecus afarensis. Centre: Australopithecus boisei. Right: A modern human skull.16
Fig. 1.6. Two contrasting views by evolutionists of Zinjanthropus boisei (now known as Paranthropus or Australopithecus boisei).17
Interestingly, the oldest hominins, such as Sahelanthropus, Orrorin, Ardipithecus and Australopithecus afarensis, lived in a woodland environment, whereas Darwinists always used to argue that bipedalism developed when our ancestors moved into a grassland environment, as it enabled them to see farther when hunting for game or watching for predators. This scenario was never very convincing. Humans, as bipeds, are notably slower than quadrupeds – a serious problem for a tree-dweller that supposedly moved out onto the predator-rich savannas. Moreover, prairie dogs and bears are very good at surveying their surroundings but have not adopted full bipedalism.
Some dissenting scientists have challenged the australopithecines’ status as hominins and/or as our direct ancestors. Louis Leakey held that the australopithecines were not in the main line of human evolution, but an early offshoot from it. Anatomist Sir Solly Zuckerman took the view that the teeth, skull, jaws, brain and limbs of Australopithecus were essentially apelike, and concluded that it was in no way related to the origin of humans. Charles Oxnard held that the australopithecines possessed ‘a mosaic of features unique to themselves and features bearing some resemblance to those of the orangutan’; although they were bipedal to some degree, they were also at home in the trees, and did not have a place in the direct human lineage.18
Some modern researchers are continuing to raise objections to overly humanlike portrayals of Australopithecus.19 Tattersall and Schwartz point out that because palaeoanthropology focuses heavily on discovering ancestors, the uniqueness of the australopithecines has been downplayed, and that it is debatable whether ‘we really can point to any australopith as an early but direct human ancestor’. They add that neither afarensis, africanus, aethiopicus, robustus nor boisei can be ancestral to the Homo lineage because in certain features, e.g. the femur, they are more ‘evolved’, i.e. specialized, whereas ‘an ancestor should be more primitive, not more derived, than its presumed descendants’.20 Many experts today echo the doubts raised in 1925, when Australopithecus was first discovered, that these creatures represent an extinct side-branch in the human evolutionary story.21
Fig. 1.7. Comparison of a 1.6-million-year-old woman (ER 1808) of an early Homo species from Kenya a 3.2-million-year-old australopithecine from Ethiopia (‘Lucy’, Australopithecus afarensis). ER 1808 stood 5 feet 9 inches tall while Lucy stood 3.5 feet tall, as did other australopithecines who lived at the same time as ER 1808. Black bones indicate those which have been discovered.
There is scepticism as to whether Lucy represents a single individual or even a single species, as the bones were found scattered across a hillside. She is described as having a chimpanzee-like head perched on a humanlike body. Many claim that the pelvis indicates a bipedal form of locomotion, but it was found ‘badly crushed’ and some believe its similarity to that of humans is due to an ‘error in the reconstruction’. According to some researchers, Lucy was mostly apelike, with arboreal adaptations; it was not significantly bipedal, did not have a humanlike gait and would have had difficulty keeping upright while standing still. There is evidence that Lucy knuckle-walked, like chimps and gorillas do today.22
Fig. 1.8. Reconstruction of a female A. afarensis. (en.wikipedia.org)
According to mainstream anthropology, the australopithecines were transitional between early quadrupedal apes and fully bipedal modern humans. However, some scientists, including supporters of the theory of initial bipedalism (see section 5), have turned the orthodox position on its head, and argue that the australopithecines are actually offshoots of bipedal hominids and were evolving towards quadrupedalism. Fossil evidence provides some support for this.
Australopithecus anamensis, discovered in Kenya in 1995, appears to have been perfectly bipedal 4 million years ago. ‘Lucy’ (A. afarensis), dated at 3.2 million years old, discovered at Hadar, Ethiopia, in 1974, has bipedal characteristics, but she also has divergent big toes like those used by modern apes to climb trees. Afarensis also had an upward-pointing shoulder joint indicating that the arm was used for suspensory behaviour, and a hand with a powerful wrist and curved fingers, suitable for climbing. ‘Little Foot’, an australopithecine skeleton found at the Sterkfontein caves in South Africa in 1998, and dated at around 3.3 million years old, had an ankle joint that shows it was already bipedal but was also able to climb trees thanks to its divergent big toes. As palaeontologist Yvette Deloison points out, this means we have a 4-million-year-old australopithecine that was perfectly bipedal, and two more recent skeletons that are less bipedal and more arboreal.23
Fig. 1.9. The footprints found at Laetoli, Tanzania, dated at 3.6 million years, are usually attributed to A. afarensis. They are very similar to human footprints, but some researchers have identified certain apelike characteristics indicating that the creature that made them had a bipedal gait, but not entirely like that of humans.24
Taking the view that evolution never goes backwards (known as Dollo’s law), Deloison argues that ‘the human foot, highly specialized for bipedal use, cannot have been derived from a foot adapted to climbing trees, which is also highly specialized but in a different way’. She estimates that a primitive ape walked upright as long as 15 million years ago. She believes there were three species of bipedal primates: one of them developed into hominins (Homo), another became semi-bipedal, semi-arboreal australopithecines, and the third developed into quadrupedal orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees.25 François de Sarre has argued that it was actually some of the australopithecines that eventually evolved into gorillas and chimps.
In late 2001 Meave Leakey added to the already confused early hominid picture by announcing the discovery of a new hominid in Kenya, 3.5 million years old, roughly the same age as Australopithecus afarensis. Instead of identifying it as a new member of the genus Australopithecus, she stirred up the hominid world by creating a new genus and species for it, Kenyanthropus platyops, implying that the australopithecines are a side-branch unrelated to humans.26 Other scientists classify it as a separate species of Australopithecus (A. platyops), or assign it to A. afarensis.
The mainstream view that we had australopithecine ancestors is unlikely to be given up without a fight. In 1986 Pat Shipman made the following confession: ‘we could assert that we have no evidence whatsoever of where Homo arises from and remove all members of the genus Australopithecus from the hominid family. ... I’ve such a visceral negative reaction to this idea that I suspect I am unable to evaluate it rationally. I was brought up on the notion that Australopithecus is a hominid.’27
The rise of Homo
Explaining the assumed evolutionary transition from Australopithecus to Homo poses grave problems. Tattersall and Schwartz believe that A. africanus and A. garhi were closest to the Homo line, whereas Johanson and Edgar believe it was A. afarensis (see fig. 1.9). The latter admit that ‘there is a long gap in the fossil record between 2 and 3 million years ago where convincing intermediates between A. afarensis ... and earliest Homo are essentially absent’. They add:
For the moment, the evolutionary roots of Homo are still poorly understood, but they will ultimately be found in pre-2 million-year-old deposits. Despite the widely held view that A. africanus makes a good candidate for ancestor to Homo, equally convincing arguments can be mounted to support a unique link between africanus and A. robustus. Should this be the case, then the three species of Pliocene-Pleistocene Homo [i.e. rudolfensis, habilis and ergaster] are without an identifiable predecessor.1
Fig. 1.10. Two hominid family trees: above, from Tattersall and Schwartz; below, from Johanson and Edgar. The latter write: ‘The variety of human family trees now cluttering the literature makes it virtually impossible to identify the correct tree because of the forest.’2
Fig. 1.11. Human family tree compiled by Douglas Palmer and Patricia Ash (open.edu).
Darwinists admit that ‘The hominin fossil record does not include a truly intermediate form between an apelike and a humanlike body.’3 Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr wrote in 2004:
The earliest fossils of Homo, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus, are separated from Australopithecus by a large, unbridged gap. How can we explain this seeming saltation? Not having any fossils that can serve as missing links, we have to fall back on the time-honoured method of historical science, the construction of a historical narrative.4
Chris Stinger and Peter Andrews put it this way: ‘[A]lthough it seems likely that it happened in Africa before 2 million years ago, we do not really know when, where and why the first members of the genus Homo evolved.’5
A new species, Australopithecus sediba, was discovered in 2008, dated to about 2 million years ago. It is believed to have practised a unique combination of bipedalism and arboreality. Some palaeoanthropologists, such as Lee Berger, whose nine-year-old son discovered it, regard it as a transitional species between A. africanus and either Homo habilis or Homo erectus. However, it is said to have had a more humanlike pattern of locomotion than a fossil attributed to Homo habilis. It is also considered to have had a previously unknown way of walking upright: with each step it turned its foot inward with its weight focused on the outer edge of the foot. Other palaeoanthropologists believe that it was part of A. africanus or existed alongside the true direct ancestors of H. erectus.6
There are serious disagreements about how many species of Homo should be recognized and how to arrange them into a family tree. The original simplistic scenario in which Homo habilis (‘handy man’) evolved into Homo erectus (‘upright man’) which then evolved into Homo sapiens has long since been abandoned, and several new and controversial species have been added. While some anthropologists hail H. habilis as the most likely ancestor of our lineage, others argue that it was a dead-end side-branch. It is widely recognized that habilis has become an all-embracing ‘wastebasket’ species into which a variety of fossils have been conveniently swept. Some anthropologists believe that the ‘real’ habilis should be assigned to the genus Australopithecus rather than Homo.7
Fig. 1.12. Left: Homo habilis as generally depicted before 1987. Below the head, the anatomy is essentially human. Right: After the OH 62 skeletal remains, 1.8 million years old, were found at Olduvai Gorge in 1987, a new picture of H. habilis emerged, far smaller and more apelike than before. The fact that the OH 62 skeleton has longer arms and shorter legs than afarensis, its proposed ancestor is described as an ‘intriguing puzzle’.8
Habilis won majority acceptance in the late 1970s, especially after the discovery of the ER 1470 skull. However, some scientists have now assigned this skull to a second species of early Homo known as rudolfensis, while others argue that it belongs to a larger-brained gracile australopithecine.9 Some researchers believe rudolfensis rivals habilis for the status of our earliest Homo ancestor, but others argue that rudolfensis had certain specializations which make it less likely than smaller-brained and more primitive-limbed habilis to have given rise to later humans. Some see rudolfensis as the ancestor of habilis, others see the two on completely different evolutionary lines, and yet others reject the existence of rudolfensis altogether.
Homo erectus stood between 1.45 and 1.85 m tall and had a brain size of between 850 and 1250 cc. Most palaeoanthropologists now believe that from the neck down, Homo erectus was almost the same as modern humans. The forehead, however, sloped back from behind massive brow ridges, the jaws and teeth were large, and the lower jaw lacked a chin. There is evidence that they harnessed fire, used complex tools, had seaworthy craft, cared for the sick, and were as capable of speech as modern humans (despite earlier insistence that they only had a proto-language).10 Although many palaeoanthropologists still regard erectus as a direct ancestor to modern humans, some now suggest that it is too specialized. Tattersall says that erectus was made the ancestor of H. sapiens ‘not on any compelling morphological grounds, but because it simply happened to occur at the right time to be that ancestor’.11
Fig. 1.13. Artist’s rendering of Homo erectus. (britannica.com)
Dates for erectus have become earlier and earlier, while habilis remains have been found in later and later deposits, making a lineage in which habilis evolves into erectus increasingly unlikely. The oldest erectus fossils are dated at 1.9 million years old, and the species is said to have persisted in Java until as recently as 50,000 years ago.12 Some erectus remains in Java have been given dates as recent as 27,000 years, and the youngest date for erectus is 6000 years ago, though this is unacceptable to mainstream anthropologists.13 Erectus is generally thought to have evolved in Africa, but erectus fossils have been found in Java which are just as old as the oldest African fossils.14 Stone tools and a few hominin fossil fragments dated at 2.25 million years have been discovered in eastern China, and many Chinese scientists believe that erectus evolved independently in Asia.15 Throughout its long existence, erectus shows no clear signs of evolving into anything else.
The validity of the erectus species has been challenged. Some anthropologists have assigned African erectus fossils to Homo ergaster (‘working man’), while other fossils have been assigned to our own species, Homo sapiens. However, researchers who see ergaster as a valid species tend to assign different specimens to it. They generally regard it as a direct ancestor of modern humans with erectus being an evolutionary dead-end. Many scientists reject the validity of ergaster as it is too similar to erectus. Palaeoanthropologists who support the multiregional continuity theory, such as Milford Wolpoff and Alan Thorne, propose that erectus, too, should be abolished as it is insufficiently distinct from sapiens.16 While some researchers recognize seven or eight Homo species, Wolpoff and his colleagues recognize only two: sapiens and habilis, with ergaster, erectus, heidelbergensis and neanderthalensis being subsumed within sapiens, who would therefore extend back some 2.5 million years.
Some palaeoanthropologists regard Homo antecessor (‘pioneer man’) as an evolutionary link between H. ergaster and H. heidelbergensis, while others regard it as the same species as H. heidelbergensis (‘Heidelberg man’), which would then date back 1.3 million years.17 Homo sapiens is generally believed to have evolved in Africa some 200,000 years ago, possibly from Homo heidelbergensis or Homo rhodesiensis (‘Rhodesian man’, the name sometimes given to the African form of heidelbergensis); the oldest generally accepted sapiens fossils are 195,000 years old, and were found in Ethiopia.18 (Candidate Homo sapiens fossils up to 300,000 years old have been found in eastern and southern Africa but are usually fragmentary and hard to date.)19 Beginning around 100,000 years ago, Sapiens is then believed to have spread out over the world. According to the currently dominant out-of-Africa replacement theory, which is based mainly on mitochondrial DNA evidence, sapiens largely replaced the native hominin populations that it encountered (which allegedly originated in a far earlier migration of Homo erectus or ergaster out of Africa). Advocates of the rival multiregional continuity theory, on the other hand, argue on the basis of fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence that sapiens interbred with other hominid populations after leaving Africa.
Fig. 1.14. Skulls of Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens. (en.wikipedia.org)
The Neanderthals (also spelt: Neandertals) lived from about 300,000 to possibly 30,000 years ago. The modern form of our own species is exemplified by Cro-Magnon (H. sapiens sapiens), who started to arrive in Europe about 45,000 years ago. The Cro-Magnons are particularly famous for their highly sophisticated cave art.20 The Neanderthals are usually classed as a separate species, Homo neanderthalensis, possibly originating in Europe and western Asia from Homo heidelbergensis, but some anthropologists still classify them as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, i.e. a subspecies of H. sapiens. Their average cranial capacity (1450 cc) was larger than the modern human average (1345 cc), but they also had a larger body size, possessing stocky builds well adapted to ice age conditions, and immense strength. Many skeletons show fractures and injuries, most of which have healed, probably sustained while hunting large animals. The Neanderthals had a language, lived in complex social groups, built dwellings, buried their dead, ate cooked vegetables as well as meat, made sophisticated tools, built dugout boats, practised art, and made ornamental objects and musical instruments.21 Yet there is still a tendency to depict them as unintelligent, subhuman brutes.
The Neanderthals lived in western Asia until at least 50,000 years ago and are said to have largely disappeared from Europe by about 39,000 years ago. They coexisted with Cro-Magnons for thousands of years, but the extent to which their relations were friendly or hostile is disputed.22 Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans were sometimes buried together, and gradations from Neanderthals to modern humans are seen in the fossil record, indicating that some degree of interbreeding took place.
The discovery of a new fossil species, named Homo floresiensis (‘Flores man’; nicknamed ‘hobbit’), on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 has been described as ‘very unexpected’ and as showing ‘how little we still really know about human evolution in Asia’.23 The species had long arms, stood about 1 metre tall, and had extremely small brains (400 cc), comparable to those of chimpanzees. The legs and hipbone suggest they could walk upright; the hipbone resembles that of the australopithecines. Some researchers contend that the species evolved from H. erectus (whose remains have not been found on the island) and underwent island dwarfing, a process whereby some creatures confined to isolated habitats are known to have become smaller over time, while others believe that it evolved from a smaller, unknown species. Still others believe that the individuals are H. sapiens but suffered from a pathological condition known as endemic cretinism. The species is believed to have survived until at least as recently as 12,000 years ago. Their bones were excavated together with stone tools and the remains of a pygmy form of an extinct elephant. The earliest stone tools found on Flores indicate that hominins arrived there at least 800,000 years ago, presumably by boat.24
The neo-Darwinian theory that one species gradually evolves into another species through the slow accumulation of minute changes over extremely long periods of time is contradicted by the fossil record, including the hominid fossil record.1 Stephen J. Gould pointed out that ‘we still have no firm evidence for any progressive change within any hominid species’.2 Instead, species persist unchanged for millions of years, and these periods are followed by the sudden appearance of several new species. This prompted the development of the modified Darwinian theory of punctuated equilibrium, first proposed by Gould and Niles Eldredge in 1972, which says that new species split off from ancestral species so rapidly that there is little chance of a smooth series of transitional fossils being preserved.
However, the probability of the right random genetic variations (amidst all the unfavourable ones) occurring and being ‘selected for’ within a very short space of time, leading to the appearance of a new species, is even more remote than the prospect of such changes occurring over a very long period. The vast majority of genetic mutations are harmful or even lethal. In the 1950s geneticist J.B.S. Haldane showed that, even under very favourable assumptions, only one new, beneficial mutation could be completely substituted in a population every 300 generations. So in 10 million years – far longer than the time that has elapsed since the alleged chimp/human split from a common ancestor – only 1667 substitutions of beneficial genes could occur.3 This amounts to three ten-millionths of the human genome – which is hardly likely to turn an ape into a human.
Moreover, studies have found that the human mutation rate is so high that each breeding couple would have to produce at least 10 offspring, and more likely 40 or even 60 offspring, merely to prevent the population suffering genetic deterioration.4 To get round this problem, Darwinists invoke ‘truncation selection’ or ‘synergistic epistasis’, whereby harmful mutations are eliminated ‘in bunches’ – a purely speculative idea, despite its imposing name.
Two neo-Darwinists, Rick Durrett and Deena Schmidt, estimated in 2008 that it would take 216 million years to generate and fix two coordinated mutations in the hominid line, whereas it has allegedly taken only 6 million years for us to evolve from our last common ancestor with the chimps. Durrett and Schmidt suggested that the problem can be overcome because some 20,000 genes are evolving independently. However, many of the 16 major anatomical changes required, necessitating hundreds or thousands of mutations, had to occur together to be of benefit. Ann Gauger comments: ‘So even if a random mutation or two resulted in one change, they would be unlikely to be preserved. And getting all sixteen to appear and then become fixed within six million years, let alone the one and a half million years that it apparently took, can’t have happened through an unguided process.’5
The need for unconventional factors to guide evolution has been recognized by various evolutionists. For instance, in the 19th century, Alfred Russell Wallace, the codeveloper of the theory of natural selection, argued that humans could not have evolved without the intervention of higher intelligences. In the 20th century, palaeoanthropologist Franz Weidenreich accepted the principle of orthogenesis – the idea that evolution is directed by an inner drive towards a particular goal. Anthropologist Robert Broom believed that evolution was guided and controlled by a variety of spiritual and psychic agencies, some of them being benevolent and some malignant.6 All three scientists nevertheless believed that humans had descended from the apes.
Modern Darwinists have assigned a major role to ‘regulatory genes’ in order to explain why we so often find innovations appearing abruptly in the fossil record, rather than being slowly fine-tuned over the ages by natural selection. Regulatory genes control major developmental patterns, and minor changes in these genes can apparently have major consequences for the individuals and populations carrying them. Each individual possesses two copies of each gene, which may be the same or different. If they are different, one copy will be dominant and the other recessive or unexpressed. Nonlethal genetic mutations are usually recessive to start with. It is thought that at some point, regulatory genes, ‘by a mechanism that remains unclear’, activate the recessive mutated genes and deactivate certain other genes, leading to the abrupt appearance of a new organ, or perhaps a new species.7 In other words, just the right genes mutate randomly in just the right way, and then at just the right time exactly the right genes are randomly switched on or off to produce an evolutionary novelty. Yet Darwinists insist that they don’t believe in miracles!
Furthermore, contrary to the impression Darwinists like to give, genes do not carry the ‘blueprint’ for the construction of an organism; they merely code for the production of proteins. The proteins specified by structural genes provide the raw materials used in building the body, while the proteins specified by regulatory genes can carry signals that turn other genes on or off. But no genes are known to carry instructions for moulding proteins into tissues, organs and complex living organisms, nor do they explain instinctual and learned behaviour, and the workings of the mind. Great chunks of reality are therefore missing from the materialistic Darwinist theory.
For new species to arise through a series of rapid genetic and nongenetic changes, those changes would have to be directed and coordinated in some way. Even then, the belief that humans descended from australopithecines and ultimately from some Miocene ape remains no more than an unproven hypothesis. Theosophy argues that it is actually the apes which are partially descended from humans (see section 6). Some scientists have recognized that even the earliest apelike creatures had anatomical specializations that make them unlikely ancestors of humans, who have a simpler, more generalized anatomy (see section 5). As already explained, a few scientists argue that far from being our ancestors, the australopithecines descended from a bipedal hominin and were evolving towards quadrupedalism. However, many evolutionists take the view that there is no objection to anatomical specializations being gained and later lost in the course of evolution – if this is what it takes to save the ape-ancestry theory from collapse!
It is often said that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. The idea that humans, with their unique mental powers, developed from an ape through random mutations and natural selection certainly ranks as an extraordinary claim. But the only extraordinary thing about the ‘evidence’ cited in support of the theory is its extraordinary weakness. What would really demolish the present claims that Homo evolved from Australopithecus would be if fossils or other evidence of humans similar to ourselves were found in strata more than one or two million years old. Although conspicuously absent from modern textbooks, such evidence has in fact been found and will be reviewed in section 3.
- Quoted in Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson, Forbidden Archeology, San Diego: CA: Bhaktivedanta Institute, 1993, p. 690.
- Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb, London: Penguin Books, 1990, p. 106.
- Duane T. Gish, Evolution: The fossils still say no!, El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1995, p. 328.
- James M. Foard, ‘The Darwin papers’, thedarwinpapers.com.
- Evolution: The fossils still say no!, p. 330.
Primates and hominoids
- Gish, Evolution: The fossils still say no!, pp. 213-9.
- See Geological timescale, http://davidpratt.info.
- Chris Stringer and Peter Andrews, The Complete World of Human Evolution, New York: Thames & Hudson, 2nd ed., 2011, p. 110.
- Evolution: The fossils still say no!, pp. 223-4.
- The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 111.
- Ibid., p. 109.
- Quoted in Foard, ‘The Darwin papers’.
- Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar, From Lucy to Language, London: Cassell, 2001, pp. 30-1.
- Quoted in Ian Tattersall, The Fossil Trail: How we know what we think we know about human evolution, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 125.
- The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 10.
Australopithecus and other ‘ancestors’
- Johanson and Edgar, From Lucy to Language, p. 18.
- humanorigins.si.edu; Stringer and Andrews, The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 115.
- britannica.com; The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 121.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahelanthropus; Bruce Bower, ‘Evolution’s surprise; fossil find uproots our early ancestors’, 13 July 2002, sciencenews.org; ‘“Oldest” skull causing headaches’, 9 Oct. 2002, cbsnews.com.
- Bernard Wood, ‘Who are we?’, New Scientist, 26 Oct. 2002, pp. 44-7.
- C. David Kreger, modernhumanorigins.net.
- The Complete World of Human Evolution, pp. 115-6.
- Ibid., pp. 116, 123.
- Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey Schwartz, Extinct Humans, New York: Nevraumont, 2001, p. 98.
- Michael A. Cremo, Human Devolution: A Vedic alternative to Darwin’s theory, Los Angeles, CA: Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, 2003, pp. 13-4.
- Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe and Casey Luskin, Science and Human Origins, Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2012, p. 71.
- ‘Human evolution’, Encyclopaedia Britannica, CD-ROM 2004.
- http://anthro.palomar.edu/hominid/australo_1.htm, /australo_2.htm.
- The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 12.
- Gish, Evolution: The fossils still say no!, p. 238.
- C.E. Oxnard, ‘The place of the australopithecines in human evolution: grounds for doubt?’, Nature, v. 258, 1975, pp. 389-95.
- Cremo and Thompson, Forbidden Archeology, pp. 710-22, 728-39.
- Extinct Humans, pp. 74, 90-1.
- The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 125.
- Science and Human Origins, pp. 60-4; The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 120.
- ‘First upright apes may have walked in 15 million BC’, 1999, trussel.com.
- evolhum.cnrs.fr/deloison; Yvette Deloison, ‘Les empreintes de pas de Laétoli, Tanzanie’, Biométrie Humaine et Anthropologie, v. 22, nos. 1-2, 2004, pp. 61-5, hominides.com.
- Yvette Deloison, ‘L’homme ne descend pas d’un primate arboricole! Une évidence méconnue’, Biométrie Humaine et Anthropologie, v. 17, 1999, pp. 147-50; Yvette Deloison, ‘New hypothesis on hominoid bipedalism’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Supplement 30, 2000, p. 137.
- Human Devolution, pp. 11-2.
- Quoted in Forbidden Archeology, p. 749.
The rise of Homo
- Johanson and Edgar, From Lucy to Language, pp. 38, 164.
- Ibid., pp. 37-8; Tattersall and Schwartz, Extinct Humans, p. 244.
- Ernst Mayr, What Makes Biology Unique? Considerations on the autonomy of a scientific discipline, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 198.
- Stringer and Andrews, The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 10.
- humanorigins.si.edu; britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/44115/Australopithecus; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australopithecus_sediba.
- The Complete World of Human Evolution, pp. 132-5; Gauger, Axe and Luskin, Science and Human Origins, pp. 65-7.
- Michael Brass, The Antiquity of Man, Baltimore, MD: AmErica House, 2002, p. 78; Cremo and Thompson, Forbidden Archeology, p. 700.
- A.W. Mehlert, ‘The rise and fall of skull KNM-ER 1470’, 1999, www.trueorigin.org/skull1470.asp.
- Tattersall, The Fossil Trail, p. 168.
- The Complete World of Human Evolution, p. 162.
- Roger Lewin, ‘Ancient humans found refuge in Java’, New Scientist, 21/28 Dec. 1996, p. 16; Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention: A creationist assessment of human fossils, Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2nd ed., 2004, pp. 115-23.
- Roger Lewin, ‘Human origins: the challenge of Java’s skulls’, New Scientist, 7 May 1994, pp. 36-40.
- R. Ciochon and R. Larick, ‘Early Homo erectus tools in China’, Archaeology, v. 53, Jan./Feb. 2000, pp. 14-5.
- Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari, Race and Human Evolution, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997, pp. 250-6; M.H. Wolpoff, J. Hawks and R. Caspari, ‘Multiregional, not multiple origins’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, v. 112, 2000, pp. 129-36, personal.umich.edu.
- humanorigins.si.edu; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_antecessor.
- ‘The oldest Homo sapiens: fossils push human emergence back to 195,000 years ago’, ScienceDaily, 28 Feb. 2005, sciencedaily.com.
- New Scientist, 14 June 2003, pp. 4-5.
- The ancient Americas, section 8, http://davidpratt.info.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal; Science and Human Origins, pp. 71-3; Bones of Contention, pp. 75-85, 207-69; humanorigins.si.edu.
- Ewen Callaway, ‘Neanderthals: bone technique redrafts prehistory’, 20 Aug. 2014, nature.com; The Complete World of Human Evolution, pp. 164-5.
- The Complete World of Human Evolution, pp. 174-5.
- humanorigins.si.edu; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_floresiensis.
- See Evolution and design, section 4, http://davidpratt.info
- Quoted in Walter J. ReMine, The Biotic Message: Evolution versus message theory, Saint Paul, MN: St. Paul Science, 1993, p. 323.
- Ibid., pp. 208-36.
- Fred Williams, ‘Monkey-man hypothesis thwarted by mutation rates’, 2002, evolutionfairytale.com/articles_debates/mutation_rate.htm.
- Gauger, Axe and Luskin, Science and Human Origins, pp. 24-6.
- R. Broom, The Coming of Man, London: H.F. & G. Witherby, 1933, pp. 11-2, 196-8, 220-5.
- Tattersall and Schwartz, Extinct Humans, pp. 46-9.
2. Genetic tales: Adam and Eve
Darwinists frequently claim that human and chimp DNA is over 98% identical.1 The Smithsonian Institution, for example, says that human DNA differs from that of chimpanzees and also bonobos by 1.2%, while human, chimp and bonobo DNA differs from that of gorillas by about 1.6%, and the DNA of these African apes differs from that of the Asian great ape, the orangutan, by 3.1%. These figures are based solely on measurements of substitutions in the base building blocks of selected genes that the species in question share. If deletions, duplications and insertions of DNA segments are also taken into account, there is an additional 4 to 5% distinction between human and chimp genomes. From figures such as these, first touted in the 1970s, it is commonly inferred that humans, chimpanzees and bonobos are more closely related to one another than either is to gorillas or any other primate.2
The initial drafts of the human and chimp genomes were not announced until 2001 and 2005 respectively. However, even today, figures for DNA similarity are not based on a comparison of entire genomes, but on selected DNA sequences already known to be highly similar. As Jeffrey Tomkins and Jerry Bergman explain, DNA sequence data ‘often goes through several levels of prescreening, filtering and selection before being summarized and discussed. Non-alignable regions and gaps in the sequence alignments are often omitted in the final results or their impact is obfuscated.’ Tomkins and Bergman found that when omitted data are taken into account, human-chimp similarity for the sequences considered is not more than 81 to 87%.3 Many of the studies that found a 1-2% difference were based on cherry-picked sequences of protein-coding DNA, which is highly conserved, whereas some 95% of the human genome consists of non-protein-coding DNA, formerly called ‘junk DNA’ but now recognized as instrumental in regulating gene expression. Tomkins and Bergman also point out that by using techniques similar to those used in comparing humans and chimps, human DNA is roughly 35% identical to daffodil DNA, but ‘it does not follow that we are physically 35% daffodil’.
A detailed study of sex chromosomes (X and Y chromosomes) and non-sex chromosomes (autosomes) by Tomkins reported the following findings:
Only 69% of the chimpanzee X chromosome was similar to human and only 43% of the Y chromosome. Chimp autosomal similarity to human on average was 70.7% with a range of 66.1% to 77.9%, depending on the chromosome. Genome-wide, only 70% of the chimpanzee DNA was similar to human under the most optimal sequence-slice conditions.
Chimpanzees and humans share many localized protein-coding regions of high similarity. However, overall there is extreme DNA sequence discontinuity between the two genomes.4
The claim that humans and chimpanzees are genetically 98% alike is clearly absurd given that the chimp genome is reportedly 8% larger than a human’s. In addition, humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes compared to 24 in chimps and other great apes. Other discrepancies are that chromosomes 4, 9, and 12 are very different in humans and chimps, with the genes and markers on these chromosomes not being in the same order.5 A 2010 study found that the chimp and human Y chromosomes are ‘horrendously different from each other’. The chimp Y chromosome has only two-thirds as many distinct genes or gene families as the human Y chromosome and only 47% as many protein-coding elements as humans; more than 30% of the chimp Y chromosome lacks an alignable counterpart on the human Y chromosome.6
To explain why chimps and humans have different numbers of chromosomes, Darwinists argue that chimp chromosomes 2A and 2B fused end-to-end, forming human chromosome 2. Supposed proof came in 1991, when researchers discovered a fusion-like DNA sequence on human chromosome 2. However, it was unexpectedly small in size (800 bases) and highly degenerate (ambiguous) given the supposed 3 to 6 million years of divergence from a common ancestor. More importantly, it contained a signature never seen before – a telomere-telomere fusion (telomeres are the regions at the end of chromosomes that contain thousands of repeats of a particular DNA sequence). The alleged fusion sequence is now known to be a key part of an important regulatory gene, and since it is on the reverse-oriented chromosomal strand, it has to be read in the reverse direction, not in the forward orientation typically used as evidence for a fusion. In addition, the genes surrounding the supposed fusion site do not exist on chimp chromosome 2A or 2B.7 François de Sarre, who rejects the ape-ancestry theory, argues that human chromosome 2 has actually split into chimp chromosomes 2A and 2B; chromosome 2B has also acquired additional genetic material.8 This is consistent with the theosophical position that apes have partially descended from humans and have developed a more specialized anatomy.
Although the chimp-human connection receives by far the most publicity, different kinds of genetic studies yield conflicting results regarding the evolutionary relationship between humans, chimpanzees and gorillas. In the case of nuclear DNA, the Y chromosome evidence makes chimps closest to humans, but the X chromosome evidence makes chimps closest to gorillas, as does involucrin-gene analysis and chromosome banding analysis. Some studies of mitochondrial DNA suggest that humans, chimps and gorillas are equally close to each other. But one analysis indicated that human mitochondria seem to represent a radical departure from previously examined organisms, and do not originate from recognizable relatives of present-day organisms.9
Jeffrey Schwartz points out that of 26 unique traits that humans share with the living hominoids, they share all 26 with the orangutan, only nine with the chimpanzee and gorilla, and only five with the gibbon. He therefore maintains that humans are more closely related to the orangutan than they are to the African apes and challenges the use of molecular and biochemical data to establish evolutionary relationships between humans and apes.10 Jonathan Marks says that, as far as skeletal evidence is concerned, the cranium links humans and chimps, but the rest of the skeleton links chimps and gorillas. Like Schwartz, he questions the prevailing belief that genetic evidence is superior to other kinds of evidence, saying it has been used to make ‘rash generalizations’ and draw ‘belligerent conclusions’ on the basis of questionable assumptions.11
As already noted, genes are vastly overrated by materialistic biologists. Genes merely specify what amino acids should be strung together to form protein molecules, and it is hardly surprising that the bodies of humans and apes are composed of similar molecular ingredients. The real problem is to explain how those ingredients arrange themselves into complex structures and why humans have selfconscious minds whereas all the apes do not.
According to the prevailing ‘African Eve’ or ‘mitochondrial Eve’ hypothesis, all living humans can trace part of their genetic inheritance to a female who lived in Africa about 150,000 years ago. This theory is based on studies of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which we inherit only from our mothers. It is assumed that the only changes that mtDNA undergoes are those that accumulate by random mutations, and that by working out the rate of mutation, mtDNA can be used as a kind of clock. On the basis of mtDNA data from different human populations, computer programs identify which population group has the most variation (i.e. the most mutations) in its mtDNA; this group is assumed to be the oldest group and therefore the parent group. It is also computed how far back in time we have to go for the observed mtDNA diversity in today’s human populations to coalesce into a single past mtDNA sequence, and this is assumed to provide the date of the last common ancestor.
All the assumptions underlying this method are false.1 Mitochondrial DNA supposedly undergoes random mutations at a fixed rate and is not subject to natural selection. However, the rate of mutation is actually stochastic, or probabilistic, which renders perfect calibration of the molecular clock impossible. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that natural selection does in fact affect mtDNA, which means that the molecular clock will run at different rates in different populations. For example, if in one population natural selection is eliminating some of the mutations, this will make that population appear younger than it really is. Some scientists have also challenged the belief that mtDNA is inherited solely from the mother and does not randomly recombine with male DNA during sexual reproduction; evidence for paternal mtDNA inheritance has so far been found in mussels, fruit flies, mice and anchovies.
The fact that African populations may show a higher level of mtDNA diversity than Asian and European populations does not necessarily mean that African populations are the oldest. If the population increases more rapidly in one region than in another, this can cause greater diversity in that population. Conversely, population bottlenecks (where the population dwindles to just a few mating couples) lead to a loss of variation. Genetic variation within and among groups can also arise from low but consistent levels of interbreeding combined with buildup in regional groups of random genetic changes. As geneticist Alan Templeton says: ‘The diversity in a region does not necessarily reflect the age of the regional population but rather could reflect the age since the last favourable mutation arose in the population, the demographic history of population size expansion, the extent of gene flow with other populations, and so on.’2
Our last common ancestor is frequently said to have lived 150,000 to 200,000 years ago, but different mtDNA studies have in fact produced widely divergent dates. A 1986 study, using intraspecific calculations to calibrate the molecular clock (i.e. rates of mutation in human populations only), obtained an age range for Eve of 140,000 to 290,000 years. However, Templeton calculated that, taking account of probabilistic effects and of the mtDNA divergence level of 1.4 to 9.3% found by some researchers, the date for Eve would range from 33,000 years to 675,000 years.3 It has also been found that mtDNA appears to be mutating much faster than expected, and if this were also true in the past, ‘mitochondrial Eve’ would be a mere 6000 years old.4
A 1991 study obtained an age range of 166,000 to 249,000 years, by using interspecific calculations to calibrate the mutation rate; it assumed that humans diverged from the chimpanzees either 4 or 6 million years ago. However, P. Gingerich estimated that the human-chimp split took place 9.2 million years ago, which would give a date for Eve of 554,000 years. Moreover, Lovejoy et al. found that the researchers had made a mathematical error, which when corrected gives an age for Eve of at least 1.3 million years!5
Some mtDNA studies have contradicted the African Eve hypothesis and suggest that modern humans have Asian or African-Asian roots. In terms of anatomy, Asians and Europeans are more closely related to one another than either are to Africans.6 If Africa is the home of modern humans, it is hard to explain why human chromosomes lack a protective gene sequence called the ‘baboon marker’; all nonhuman primates known to carry this gene sequence are African, such as the gorilla and chimpanzee.7
The male counterpart of mtDNA is the Y chromosome, which is inherited only from the father. Many scientists believe that just as we can trace our mtDNA back to an African Eve, so we can trace our Y chromosomes back to an African Adam, or ‘Y-guy’, though other researchers view him as ‘a statistical apparition generated by dubious evolutionary assumptions’.1 As in the case of mtDNA, various factors interfere with the Y-chromosome molecular clock: the greater diversity in Y chromosomes among Africa populations could be because Africa was more heavily populated; and the diversity outside Africa could have been reduced by the spreading of particularly favourable genes through those populations. In other words, humans could be millions of years old, and the genetic diversity we see today could simply reflect recent genetic events in that long history.
A study published in 1995 concluded that humans had a common ancestor 270,000 years ago. But the researchers acknowledged that this conclusion is based on many background assumptions – e.g. that the human line separated from the chimp line about 5 million years ago – and that the findings are open to other interpretations. A 1995 issue of Nature contained two articles on the time of origin of extant Y chromosomes. One of them gave an age of 37,000 to 49,000 years, while the other gave an estimate of 188,000 years, with a possible range of 51,000 to 411,000 years. A later study gave a date of 150,000 years, and found that the root of the statistical tree was in Africa but that, in addition to a movement out of Africa into the Old World, there might have been a movement back into Africa from Asia.2
A 2001 study concluded that three mutations in the Y chromosomes among populations from East Africa can be traced to a mutation that arose in Africa between 35,000 and 89,000 years ago. The authors admitted that archaic Y chromosomes of modern humans could be erased by natural selection (‘selection sweep’) and also by random processes such as genetic drift. They noted that the age of a common ancestor estimated using autosome/X-chromosome genes ranged from 535,000 to 1,860,000 years – much older than the favoured mtDNA and Y-chromosome dates. To explain this, they speculated that in the course of population ‘bottlenecks’ during a supposed migration out of Africa, there may have been three or four times as many men as women, leading to greater diversity in the autosome/X-chromosome DNA.3 A 2013 paper reported that a previously unknown Y-chromosome lineage had been found, which gave a date for the most recent common ancestor of 338,000 years ago (with a range of 237,000 to 581,000 years); here, too, it was suggested that ‘more complex models for the origin of Y chromosome diversity’ should be considered in order to reconcile this with the favoured mtDNA-based date.4 This demonstrates how auxiliary hypotheses can always be wheeled in to bring ‘anomalous’ results more into line with current orthodoxy.
Studies of nuclear DNA (nDNA) have also led to divergent findings regarding our human ancestors. In a study that supported the African Eve hypothesis, the two gene markers examined suggested that the human race is split into three distinct populations: sub-Saharan Africans, northeastern Africans, and everyone else in the world! Another study indicated that Africans and Eurasians are separated by a large genetic distance, thereby contradicting the out-of-Africa theory.5 A 1990 study concluded that Caucasoid populations (located from North Africa to India), rather than sub-Saharan Africans, were closest to the ancestral genetic stock. An analysis of alleles (different forms of the same gene) that code for the globin molecule pointed to an age much greater than 200,000 years for modern human populations – and possibly as old as 3 million years.6
Genetics and archaeology
The latest version of the multiregional theory agrees with the out-of-Africa theory that modern Homo sapiens probably originated in Africa around 200,000 years ago, but differs in suggesting that, after they left Africa, significant interbreeding took place with pre-sapiens hominids in other parts of the world, such as Neanderthals in Europe and erectus in Asia, leading to the evolution of modern humans. There is abundant fossil and archaeological evidence pointing to interbreeding between different human populations.1 The point at issue is exactly what degree of interbreeding has taken place. As Erik Trinkaus puts it, the debate is now about ‘trivial amounts of admixture versus major amounts of admixture’.2 Or as the New Scientist commented: ‘Some disputes seem to end up being arguments over almost nothing.’3 Both theories are probably wrong as the oldest modern human fossils are many millions of years old – but nowadays this evidence has virtually no chance of receiving a fair hearing (see next section).
Meanwhile, the current debate continues. Whereas most genetic analyses focus on just one DNA region, and produce widely varying results, Alan Templeton has carried out a study based on 25. He arrives at the following conclusions: an out-of-Africa expansion event occurred 1.9 million years ago, corresponding to the initial spread of Homo erectus out of Africa; a second out-of-Africa expansion occurred about 700,000 years ago, corresponding to the spread of the Acheulean culture, and involved interbreeding with some Eurasian populations; finally, anatomically modern humans started expanding out of sub-Saharan Africa 130,000 years ago, and interbred at low levels with the archaic Eurasian populations, thereby falsifying the hypothesis that modern humans completely replaced the archaic populations that they encountered. He argues that all three expansion events are corroborated by fossil and archaeological evidence and occurred during climatically favourable periods.4
DNA differences have been interpreted to mean that the Neanderthal line diverged from the line leading to modern humans about 500,000 years ago.5 Fossil evidence shows signs of considerable interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans.6 Until about 2010, genetic studies seemed to show that the Neanderthals became extinct without contributing genes to modern humans. But more recent studies indicate that Neanderthals are on average closer to individuals in Eurasia than to individuals in Africa, and that between 1 and 4% of the genomes of people in Eurasia are derived from Neanderthals, probably through interbreeding between 80,000 and 28,000 years ago.7 Another study found that about 20% of the Neanderthal gene pool was present in a broad sampling of non-African individuals, even though each individual’s genome was only 2% Neanderthal.8 Genetic evidence indicates that early modern humans interbred not only with Neanderthals but also with Denisovans, a Palaeozoic hominin population that ranged from Siberia to Southeast Asia, and also an even earlier, as yet unknown group.9
The limitations and unreliability of genetic analysis are clearly exposed by the contradictory results produced by different studies. David Frayer comments:
Unlike genetic data derived from living humans, fossils can be used to test predictions of theories about the past without relying on a long list of assumptions about the neutrality of genetic markers, mutational rates, or other requirements necessary to retrodict the past from current genetic variation ... [G]enetic information, at best, provides a theory of how modern human origins might have happened if the assumptions used in interpreting the genetic data are correct.
As Rosalind Harding says: ‘There’s no clear genetic test. We’re going to have to let the fossil people answer this one.’10 The present trend among Darwinists, however, is to place increasing reliance on statistical analyses of genetic data rather than on fossil evidence.
Theosophical literature indicates that surprisingly ancient human fossils could turn up in Central Asia, since that is where our own fifth humanity (or root-race) developed into a distinct human stock some 1 million years ago. The region is said to have been the home of a series of flourishing civilizations during the last 4 or 5 million years, since the midpoint of the Atlantean era.11*
*4 to 5 million years ago on the theosophical timescale corresponds to about 26 to 34 million years ago on the scientific timescale, i.e. to the Oligocene epoch.
Future archaeological discoveries are bound to bring many surprises – and to meet with intense resistance. Since 1982, archaeologist Yuri Mochanov and his team have found several thousand extremely ancient stone tools at Diring Yuriakh and other sites along the Lena River in Siberia. Various dating techniques suggest that the strata in which the tools are found are between 1.8 and 3.2 million years old. Such a date is unacceptable to traditional anthropologists, who prefer a more conservative figure of about 300,000 years. Mochanov says that the discoveries force us to reexamine ‘the forgotten concept that North and Central Asia was the original homeland of humanity’.12
In the Pabbi Hills in northern Pakistan, 2-million-year-old artifacts have been dug up which ‘bring into question the whole chronology of the evolution and dispersal of hominids both in Africa and Asia’. Most scientists consider the artifacts too old to have been made by Homo erectus, but the dating in this case is difficult to challenge.13 At the Renzidong fossil site in eastern China, animal bones showing signs of being butchered are mixed with stone tools dated as early as 2.25 million years. A jaw fragment with teeth resembling those of earliest Homo in East Africa has also been found, and many Chinese scientists believe H. erectus evolved independently in Asia.14 An even older hominid date in Asia comes from Yenangyaung in central Myanmar (Burma), where, in the 1890s, simple flint artifacts and a human femur (thighbone) or humerus (upper arm bone) were found in strata 3 to 4 million years old.15 The latter discovery seems to have long since been forgotten and, as the next section shows, this applies to a great many other paradigm-shattering finds.
- Chris Stringer and Peter Andrews, The Complete World of Human Evolution, New York: Thames & Hudson, 2nd ed., 2011, p. 24.
- Jeffrey Tomkins and Jerry Bergman, ‘Genomic monkey business – estimates of nearly identical human-chimp DNA similarity re-evaluated using omitted data’, Journal of Creation, v. 26, no. 1, 2012, pp. 94-100, creation.com; Jerry Bergman and Jeffrey Tomkins, ‘Is the human genome nearly identical to chimpanzee? – a reassessment of the literature’, Journal of Creation, v. 26, no. 1, 2012, pp. 54-60, creation.com.
- Jeffrey Tomkins, ‘Comprehensive analysis of chimpanzee and human chromosomes reveals average DNA similarity of 70%, Answers Research Journal, v. 6, 2013, answersingenesis.org.
- Science Frontiers, no. 150, Nov.-Dec. 2003, p. 2.
- Lizzie Buchen, ‘The fickle Y chromosome’, Nature, v. 463, 2010, p. 149, nature.com; J.F. Hughes et al., ‘Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content’, Nature, v. 463, 2010, pp. 536-9, nature.com.
- Jeffrey Tomkins, ‘New research debunks human chromosome fusion’, Acts & Facts, v. 42, no. 12, 2013, icr.org; Jeffrey Tomkins, ‘Alleged human chromosome 2 “fusion site” encodes an active DNA binding domain inside a complex and highly expressed gene – negating fusion’, Answers Research Journal, v. 6, 2013, pp. 367-75, answersingenesis.org.
- François de Sarre, ‘Statut phylogenique des hominoïdes’, part 1, Bipedia, no. 5, Sep. 1990, http://perso.wanadoo.fr/initial.bipedalism/5.htm.
- William R. Corliss (comp.), Biological Anomalies: Humans III, Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project, 1994, pp. 101-2, 105-6.
- William R. Corliss (comp.), Biological Anomalies: Humans I, Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project, 1992, pp. 28-30.
- Jonathan Marks, ‘Blood will tell (won’t it?): a century of molecular discourse in anthropological systematics’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, v. 94, 1994, pp. 59-79.
- Alan R. Templeton, ‘The “Eve” hypotheses: a genetic critique and reanalysis’, American Anthropologist, v. 95, 1993, pp. 51-72; Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention: A creationist assessment of human fossils, Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2nd ed., 2004, pp. 225-9.
- ‘The “Eve” hypotheses: a genetic critique and reanalysis’, p. 59; B. Bower, ‘DNA’s evolutionary dilemma’, 6 Feb. 1999, sciencenews.org.
- ‘The “Eve” hypotheses: a genetic critique and reanalysis’, p. 58.
- A. Gibbons, ‘Calibrating the mitochondrial clock’, Science, v. 279, Jan. 1998, pp. 28-9.
- Michael A. Cremo, Human Devolution: A Vedic alternative to Darwin’s theory, Los Angeles, CA: Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, 2003, pp. 85-6.
- Ronald A. Fonda, ‘Africa Eve, Eurasian Adam, the age and origin of the human species’, heretical.com/science/rafonda1.html.
- Biological Anomalies: Humans III, pp. 78-9, 91-2.
- B. Bower, ‘“Y-guy” steps into human-evolution debate’, Science News, v. 158, 2000, p. 295.
- Nature, v. 378, 1995, pp. 376-80; Cremo, Human Devolution, p. 92.
- Human Devolution, p. 94.
- F. Mendez et al., ‘An African American paternal lineage adds an extremely ancient root to the human Y chromosome phylogenetic tree’, American Journal of Human Genetics, v. 92, 2013, pp. 454-9, ucl.ac.uk.
- Corliss, Biological Anomalies: Humans III, pp. 93, 104.
- Human Devolution, p. 89.
Genetics and archaeology
- Kate Wong, ‘Is out of Africa going out the door?’, 19 Aug. 1999, www.sciam.com; B. Bower, ‘Gene, fossil data back diverse human roots’, Science News, v. 159, 2001, p. 21; Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari, Race and Human Evolution, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997, pp. 270-80.
- Quoted in Lubenow, Bones of Contention, p. 177.
- New Scientist, 14 June 2003, p. 3.
- A.R. Templeton, ‘Haplotype trees and modern human origins’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, v. 128, 2005, pp. 33-59, wiley.com; A.R. Templeton, ‘Gene flow, haplotype patterns and modern human origins’, eLS, 2012, wiley.com.
- R.E. Green et al., ‘Analysis of one million base pairs of Neanderthal DNA’, Nature, v. 444, 2006, pp. 330-6, nature.com.
- B. Bower, ‘Gene test probes Neandertal origins’, Science News, v. 158, 2000, p. 21.
- R.E. Green et al., ‘A draft sequence of the Neandertal genome’, Science, v. 328, 2010, pp. 710-22, sciencemag.org; S. Sankararaman, N. Patterson, H. Li, S. Pääbo and D. Reich, ‘The date of interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans’, PLoS Genetics, v. 8, 2012, e1002947, plosgenetics.org.
- B. Vernot and J.M. Akey, ‘Resurrecting surviving Neandertal lineages from modern human genomes’, Science, v. 343, 2014, pp. 1017-21.
- E. Pennisi, ‘More genomes from Denisova Cave show mixing of early human groups’, Science, v. 340, no. 6134, 2013, p. 799, scribd.com; K. Prüfer et al., ‘The complete genome sequence of a Neanderthal from the Altai Mountains’, Nature, v. 505, no. 7481, 2013, pp. 43-9.
- Quoted in Cremo, Human Devolution, pp. 90, 95.
- G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1973, pp. 19-22.
- Patrick Huyghe, ‘On human origins: out-of-Siberia. An interview with Yuri Mochanov’, The Anomalist, no. 2, spring 1995, pp. 28-47; Heather Hobden, ‘Diring Yuryakh – and the first Siberians’, 2014, cosmicelk.net/Siberiahistory1.htm; Yuri A. Mochanov and Svetlana A. Fedoseeva, Archaeology, the Paleolithic of Northeast Asia, a Non-Tropical Origin for Humanity, and the Earliest Stages of the Settlement of America, Burnaby, BC: Archaeology Press, Simon Fraser University, 2008.
- H. Rendell and R. Dennell, ‘Asian axe 2 million years old’, The Geographical Magazine, v. 59, 1987, pp. 270-2; S. Bunney, ‘First migrants will travel back in time’, New Scientist, 18 June 1987, p. 36.
- R. Ciochon and R. Larick, ‘Early Homo erectus tools in China’, Archaeology, v. 53, Jan./Feb. 2000, pp. 14-5.
- William R. Corliss (comp.), Archeological Anomalies: Small artifacts, Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project, 2003, pp. 189-90.
The Ape-Ancestry Myth: Part 2
The Ape-Ancestry Myth: Contents