Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Boy who cried "I found the Missing Link"

Widespread news reports recently proclaimed that a collection of primate fossils discovered in a collapsed cave in South Africa just might be an evolutionary “game changer.” ABC News reported that this creature, called Australopithecus sediba, “could be a key link in the process of evolution that led to modern human beings.”1 One headline read, “Rethinking Human Origins: Fossils Reveal a New Ancestor on the Family Tree.”2

If this fossil is a real “game changer,” then at least two things are expected.

1) It should also be found in earth layers that are significantly below, and that therefore pre-date, evidence of humans.

2) It should clearly demonstrate human evolution. Otherwise, it’s just an extinct kind of ape. It should show transitional features, such as bones and body proportions that are on their way to becoming shaped like a human’s.

Does this new fossil meet either expectation?

No - Sediba is not earlier than humans

The Sediba fossil is 1.977 million "evolutionary" years old. That's what the study authors argued.3 They then asserted that no Homo—the scientific name for human—fossil remains are any older than 1.9 million years, so that Sediba supposedly existed 77,000 years before humans. They reasoned that man therefore could have evolved from Sediba or a Sediba-like creature.

BUT what about these older dates for humans on the "evolutionary" time scale...

2 million years? Three fossils from Kenya and Tanzania dated by evolutionists at older than 2 million years that, morphologically [based on shape], are indistinguishable from modern humans.4

2.3 million years? More recent Homo discoveries include an upper jaw (maxilla) from Ethiopia and a lower jaw (mandible) from Malawi, both dated at 2.3 million years.4

2.6 million years? What about the evolutionary dating of “the first appearance of stone tools at 2.6 million years ago” that the Sediba authors acknowledged?5

3 million years? A human foot bone fossil—the fourth metatarsal—was recently found in Ethiopia , and assigned an age of three million years.

3.7 million years? Two recent analyses concluded that the famous Laetoli footprints in Tanzanian volcanic mud were made by feet that were essentially identical to those of humans.6,7 The tracks were tacked onto the evolutionary timeline at 3.7 million years ago.

How did the authors promoting Sediba as a “game changer” deal with these human bones, human foot tracks, and human tools, all deposited before Sediba? They simply dismissed them by saying “their age is uncertain.”3

No - Sediba's hand isn't on the way to being human

Did Sediba at least have transitional features, such as a part-ape, part-human hand?

The unique hand doesn’t look like a modern ape’s, a modern human’s, or any kind of gradual transition between the two. Its finger bones were long, curved, and demonstrate that this small primate was fitted for swinging through trees.5 (Human finger bones are straight.)

Also, Sediba’s thumb was long and skinny. A human thumb is proportioned to bear “large loads during stone tool production.” Thus, it could swing from tree branches and probably could not make tools out of hard stone.

"Game Changer"? More like another boy who cried "I found the Missing Link"!

When it comes to human evolution, headlines don’t match reality. For example, the fossil nicknamed “Ida” was promoted as the “missing link” in 2009, but almost immediately was debunked as an extinct variety of lemur with no evolutionary significance whatsoever.8

Australopithecus sediba was not a transition toward man, but an extinct ape kind. It is not an evolutionary game changer, but the hype surrounding it shows that the game of promoting human evolution with premature and misleading headlines has not changed at all.

Marko comments: Many scientists and their promoters in media continue to play the Missing Link game. Year after year, decade after decade, they bring forward new candidates as the ancestor of Man. Many of them are outright frauds. They do not what to face the fact that the real link that is missing is our link to God. Without understanding that we have a Creator, there is no scientific explanation for our origins that stands the light of truth!

(based on Brian Thomas, Evolutionary "Game Changer" Doesn't Change Anything, Acts & Facts, December 2011, Institute for Creation Research)

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References (selected)

1.Potter, N. Evolutionary ‘Game Changer’: Fossil May Be Human Ancestor. ABC News. Posted on abcnews.go.com September 8, 2011.

2.Kluger, J. Rethinking Human Origins: Fossils Reveal a New Ancestor on the Family Tree. Time Science. Posted on time.com September 8, 2011.

3.Pickering, R. et al. 2011. Australopithecus sediba at 1.977 Ma and Implications for the Origins of the Genus Homo. Science. 333 (6048): 1421-1423.

4. Lubenow, M. The Problem with Australopithecus sediba. Answers in Genesis. Posted on answersingenesis.org August 11, 2010

5. Kivell, T. L. et al. 2011. Australopethecus sediba Hand Demonstrates Mosaic Evolution of Locomoter and Manipulative Abilities. Science. 333 (6048): 1411-1417.

6. Raichlen, D. A. et al. 2010. Laetoli Footprints Preserve Earliest Direct Evidence of Human-Like Bipedal Biomechanics. PLoS One. 5 (3): e9769.

7. Crompton, R. H. Human-like external function of the foot, and fully upright gait, confirmed in the 3.66 million year old Laetoli hominin footprints by topographic statistics, experimental footprint-formation and computer simulation. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Published online before print July 20, 2011.

8. Thomas, B. 2009. The Ida Fossil: A Clever Campaign for a Lackluster “Link.” Acts & Facts. 38 (7): 17.