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The Creation Explanation

Creation Explanation Man in His World

Fossil Men and Alleged Human Ancestors21

Fossils which are either definitely human or allegedly ancestral to man are roughly classified by form into five groups, which we shall now discuss.

1. Essentially modern types: These fossils, considered to be Homo sapiens, fall in their form within the range of variation of modern man. The skull shape is relatively round with high forehead and crown, face fairly vertical, with prominent chin, and the brain capacity is from about 1,200 to 1650 cc (cubic centimeters). Included in this classification are the Cro-Magnon people (accepted as modern man or the immediate ancestors of the modern human race), and the Castenedolo, Olmo, Calaveras, Swanscombe, Foxhall and Galley Hill fossils, plus a few others. The latter six named fossil finds, with the exception of Swanscombe, have all been rejected by paleontologists and anthropologists. The reason is that, although their forms are clearly in the range of modern humans, they were found in geologic strata that were far too deep for such modern types to be located and fit properly into the ape-to-man evolutionary scenario. They were discovered in strata classified as Pliocene that are dated as one million or more years older than the late Pleistocene strata in which modern human fossils are theoretically supposed to appear. Thus the Castenedolo, Olmo, Calaveras, Foxhall and Galley Hill fossils have been relegated to dusty museum closets and forgotten by the anthropologists, interpreted as "intrusive burials" or frauds, because they do not fit the accepted theory of human origins. Sir Arthur Keith, British scientists and dean of anthropologists in the first quarter of this century, in his book, The Antiquity of Man, described the circumstances of these rejected fossils in detail. He told how they would have been accepted as genuine had they not so radically contradicted the ape-to-man dogma which rules the minds f most scientists.22

figure 5-1a
figure 5-1b

figure 5-1. Important skulls referred to in the text.

The forms of these fossils leaves little doubt that they are the remains of true Homo sapiens. However, the various aspects of culture are what most distinguish man from animals. Several of these types listed above were found with closely associated cultural remains, such as finely worked tools, evidence for the use of fire, cave paintings, etc.

The Swanscombe fossil is a brain case with basically modern shape but rather thick bones and a capacity of 1,325 cc. It was found in a gravel bed classed as Second Interglacial and dated as around 250,000 years old. The finder had taken such pains to document the location of his find, that it was not possible to challenge its deep position in the geologic column, close to Java Man and Peking Man in the evolutionary time scale. The principal tactic used to adapt this fossil to theory has been to stress supposed slight similarities to Neanderthal and slight differences from modern man. Swanscombe is not looked upon as the earliest known example of Homo sapiens, but toned down enough not to embarrass the theory of evolution. The theory is the final authority and guide for all questions of interpretation.23

2. Neanderthal types. These fossils are characterized by skulls which, while actually averaging about 1,500 cc, slightly larger than the modern average in brain capacity, are nevertheless materially different in certain features, being longer from front to rear, with sloping brow and prominent to massive ridges above the eyes and a less prominent chin. The Neanderthalers were powerfully built and quite similar to modern man, but short in stature.

In 1908 a complete skeleton was discovered at La Chapell-aux-Saints. M. Boule, a French anthropologist, examined the fossil remains minutely and published a report which pictured Neanderthal people walking with a shuffling gait and half-stopped posture, bruitish in appearance, complete with a covering of shaggy hair. He entirely discounted the fact that his own measurements gave the fossil a capacity of 1,600 cc, about 10 percent greater than the modern average. Boule's measurements and description were the guide for some fifty years to the construction of life-size Neanderthal exhibits in museums around the world. It was not until 1957 that two anatomists, W. Straus and A.J.E. Cave, reexamined the skeleton and published a lengthy report which straightened up Neanderthal to walk upright, as erect as we moderns. They concluded that that particular specimen belonged to an old man who was afflicted with severe arthritis which deformed the spine and other bones. They commented that, "...reincarnated and placed in a New York subway...bathed, shaved and addressed in modern clothing....it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention than some of its other denizens."24

The currently accepted view of Neanderthal makes them true man, physically powerful, intelligent, resourceful, able to make a living under conditions which probably would exterminate 20th century humans. Anthropologist Erik Trinkhaus states, "Anatomically, the Neandertals are quite similar to ourselves, having a skeletal arrangement identical to ours, brains as large as ours, and--to the best of our knowledge--the capability to perform any act normally within the ability of a modern human.25 Furthermore, the characteristics which made Neanderthalers look somewhat different from us today, when examined carefully are found generally to be within the limits of variation still found in modern humans in various populations. One creationist interpretation of the Neanderthal data sees these ancient people as a degenerate variety of humans, perhaps coarsened by the rigors of their frontier lifestyle. An additional factor is that rickets caused by vitamin D deficiency was rather widespread among the population, and perhaps also congenital syphilis that also causes bone deformities. These ideas have been proposed by some secular scientists.26

3. Homo erectus types: Formerly called Pithecanthropus erectus, meaning "erect ape-man," these creatures had skulls with a brain capacity of 700 to 1,250 cc, with very prominent brown ridges, rather narrow breadth behind the eyes, sloping forehead and a low crown, with very large, strong teeth. They supposedly walked upright, though very little of the skeleton has been represented in most fossils finds. The first specimen was discovered in 1891 by a Dutch civil servant, Eugene Dubois, who had gone first to Sumatra and then to Java for the purpose of finding a "missing link"fossil. His original major find in 1889 was the Wadjak skull having a brain capacity of 1,650 cc, which is now classified as Homo sapiens. He secreted this find and did not reveal it to the scientific world until thirty later! It apparently did not serve his purpose of becoming the discoverer of the "missing link." Two years later he discovered an ape-like skull cap at Trinil near the Solo River and, a year after that and some 45 feet away, a human femur(upper leg bone). ;He concluded the skull cap and the femur belonged to the same individual. This enabled him to report finding the remains of an ape-like creature with human upright posture. He named it Pithecanthropus erectus. This fossil, carried to Europe by its finder, was a sensation and the center of heated controversy. Many years later, by 1936; Dubois decided that he had actually found the remains of a giant gibbon, but the scientific world would not agree and gave it the permanent name and classification of ; Homo erectus.27

The geology of Java is exceedingly complex and confused owing to the heavy rains and tropical climate combined with frequent volcanic eruptions. The geology of the area in which the original Java Man skull was found was critically examined by two later expeditions in 1906 and 1931, and Dubois' analysis of the fossil-bearing strata refuted. Some scientists suggested that the Java and Wadjak skulls may well have belonged to contemporary creatures. If this is true, the Java skull could hardly have represented an ancestor of Homo sapiens.28

The Sinanthropus pekinensis("Peking Man") fossil remains were reportedly discovered in China at Choukoutien near Peking during the period from 1929 to about 1935. The three men who had charge of this research and the fossils, D. Black, Franz Weidenreich, and Teilhard de Chardin, never allowed any of the reported fossils to leave China. Furthermore, only two outside experts were allowed to examine opportunity for careful study of the fossil materials. Only plaster casts and a very few photographs were made available to the outside world. There was great deal of confusion and contradiction in the reports that came out of the special laboratory funded by Rockefeller money. Black died, Weidenreich left China because of the war with Japan, and de Chardin was left in charge of the bones. Sometime during the war the bones all disappeared, reportedly while being transported to the United States by the United States Army. So now Peking Man is a fossil without any remains and many confused reports and interpretations.

Bones of Homo sapiens were reportedly found in the upper level of the ash-filled limestone fissure at Choukoutien which was said to be a collapsed cave. The Sinanthropus bones usually were crushed and the skulls pierced. They were in a 20-foot layer of ash mixed with remains of various game animals. One very reasonable interpretation of these observations was that humans carried on a large-scale lime burning industry, and that Sinanthropus was merely one of their game animals.

It is also interesting that information leaked from China about Sinanthropus fossils gave a picture quite similar to Dubois' well-reported "Java Man," with which they are now classified as Homo erectus. And, finally, the fact that Teilhard de Chardin, who has been implicated in the infamous "Piltdown Man" fraud fifteen years earlier in England, was a guiding spirit and fund raiser for the Peking project, certainly justifies a healthy skepticism concerning the reality of "Peking Man."29

Other specimens similar to the earlier Homo erectus finds have been reported. The best known one was a skull found by Richard Leakey in 1973, broken into many pieces. It was admitted that the reconstruction required a choice of the angle for the facial bones, so who knows for sure how the creature really looked? Another Homo erectus fossil find in Australia that was reported in the international British science journal, Nature, has since been completely ignored. The reason probably is that carbon-14 dating of the site gives an age of only 8,000 to 10,000 years.30 This is considerably out of line with the accepted time span for Homo erectus which is from 650,000 to 250,000 years before the present.

It is the present authors' opinion that the Homo erectus fossils do not represent man at all, but rather a large, ape-like animal, now extinct. If they should be demonstrated to be human, they would be considered, in a creationist appraisal, to be a degenerate branch of the race, not the ancestors of modern man.

4. Australopithecus types: The term, Australopithecus, meaning "southern ape," includes specimens of varying degrees of ape-like character of skull, teeth and skeleton. There are three principle groups, the quite ape-like A. robustus, the more delicate(gracile) A. africanus, and the most recently discovered type, A. afarensis, which is supposed to have walked upright. The brain capacity of the skulls varies from about 450 cc to 500 cc. While the different fossil hunters, such as Richard Leakey, Timothy White and Donald Johanson, argue vigorously about details, they generally agree that afarensis is the ancestor of africanus and robustus, which supposedly made up either one or two evolutionary dead ends. They disagree, however, on whether afarensis is or is not the ancestor of man. Johanson and his associates claim that A. afarensis lived three to four million years ago and walked upright.31 This conclusion of erect posture is inferred from the shape of the pelvis of his famous 1975 fossil find affectionately named "Lucy," from the assumed form of the partially crushed lower and of the fossil's tibia(thigh bone), and from a complete knee joint found the previous year some 250 feet deeper in the sedimentary strata. To this evidence is added fossil footprints discovered by Mary Leakey in Tanzania, hundreds of miles south of Lucy's grave site in Ethiopia. From such observations the fossil hunters deduced that a small-brained, diminutive pre-human had learned to walk on two feet some 3 or 4 million years ago. But the footprints may have been made by a small true human being. Who knows? Sir Solly Zuckerman and Charles Oxnard concluded from complex mathematical studies of the dimensions of the fossils that australopithecines did not have the human upright gait.32

5. Homo habilis types: The first Homo habilis fossil was discovered by Louis Leakey in 1960, but the most famous find, called Skull 1470, was made in 1972 by his son, Richard.33 Fossil skulls of this type have brain capacities of between 500 and 800 cc and are considered to have slightly more similarity to the human form than to australopithecine skulls. But there are distinct and significant differences also. In the case of Skull 1470, the forehead slopes backward rather in the simian fashion , and the brain capacity, 775 cc, is about as close to that of apes as it is to that of humans. The lip area below the nose slopes outward in ape-like fashion, and the facial bones seem to suggest a rather ape-like rather than human nose. And a final quite significant feature of Skull 1470 is the way in which the lower part of the skull has a bell-shaped skirt which is quite similar to australopithecine skulls. This probably is related to very powerful jaws and large molar teeth, a distinctly ape-like characteristic. Thus, we must disagree with the few creationists who some years ago pounced upon Skull 1470 as an example of the "sudden appearance" of true humans very deep in the fossil bearing strata. We agree with anthropology teacher Hummer, who warns creationists against such gullibility.34 Despite the bold claims of the big name fossil hunters, their fossil evidence for a human evolution scenario is in disarray, for the evidence proves nothing and is ambiguous, and they can't agree on which imaginary fossil family tree is correct.35

Richard Leakey, when he discovered Skull 1470, claimed great age for the fossil and an origin separate from Australopithecus. Within several years Johanson was disputing Leakey's claims. The first potassium-argon "age" for the volcanic tuff in which the skull was found was an entirely unacceptable 220 million years. The error was attributed to "excess argon." New measurements were made using different samples from which tiny crystals of different minerals were separated to be dated. The second round of dates ran from 2.25 to 4.62 million years. An "age" of 2.61 million years was finally selected. But this time the dispute and competition for ascendancy and publicity, not to mention funding, between Johanson and Leakey was warming up. Johanson wanted his new fossil classification, Australopithecus afarensis, represented by his fossil named Lucy, to be recognized as the ancestor of both Homo habilis (Skull 1470) and Homo sapiens. To accomplish this, it was necessary to make H. habilis much younger than A. afarensis, now assigned an age of 3 to 3.4 million years. So an American laboratory made repeated age measurements, carefully selecting particular crystals from the samples. The results obtained varied from 1.5 to 6.9 million years. The age finally accepted was 1.82 million years. This conclusion gave support to Johanson's scenario of hominid fossil evolution as against Leakey's scenario which pictured the genus Homo, represented by his Homo habilis, as existing three or four million years ago along with A. afarensis, not descending from the australopithecines. With all of these disagreements on which of many age determinations to accept or reject and with the hot competition for publicity and the need for funding, one wonders about the scientific value of this fossil research.36

It is important to remember that the connection of cultural remains with any of the australopithecine fossils or the Homo erectus fossils is very tenuous. There is no real proof that any of these ape-like creatures possessed tool-making or using capabilities or other aspects of culture and technology beyond what is observed in today's chimpanzees. Richard Leakey commented on this fact in his book, Origins: "But an even stickier problem is, who made the tools? Again, if we are honest, we have to admit that we shall never really know...Unless our prehistoric Pompeii were to yield a squatting Australopithecus africanus caught in mid-swing while fashioning a stone implement we shall never be able to say, yes, they were tool makers too."37



21. Bowden, M., Ape-Men--Fact or Fallacy, Second Edition (Sovereign Publications, Bromley, Kent, 1981); Leakey, Richard E. and Roger Lewin, Origins (E.P. Dutton, New York, 1977); Johanson, Donald and Maitland Edey, Lucy--The Beginnings of Humankind (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1981).

22. Keith, Sir Arthur, The Antiquity of Man (Williams & Norgate, London, 1925).

23. Bowden, M., op. cit.(ref. 19), pp. 165-167; Clark, W. Le Gros, The Fossil Evidence for Human Evolution (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1964), p. 168.

24. Straus, W. and A.J.E. Cave, Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 32, pp. 348-363.

25. Trinkhaus, Erik and Pat Shipman, The Neandertals (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1993), p. 412.

26. Wright, D.J.M., Nature Vol. 229, 5 Feb. 1971, p. 409; Straus, W. and A.J.E. Cave, ibid.(ref. 19).

27. Bowden, M., op. cit.(ref. 19).

28. Coffin, Harold G., Creation--Accident or Design (Review and Herald Pub. Assoc., Washington, D.C., 1969), p. 217.

29. Bowden, M., op. cit.(ref. 19), pp. 127-137.

30. Thorn, A.G. and P.G. Macumber, Nature, Vol. 238l, 11 Aug. 1972, pp. 316-319.

31. Johanson, Donald, National Geographic Magazine, Vol. 150, Dec. 1976, pp. 790-811; Bowden, M., op. cit(ref. 19), pp. 216-233.

32. Oxnard, C.E., Nature, Vol. 258, 4 Dec. 1975, pp. 389-395; Zuckerman, Sir Solly, Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1966), Vol. II (2), pp. 87-114; _________, Beyond the Ivory Tower (Taplinger Pub. Co., New York, 1971), pp. 76-94.

33. Leakey, Richard E., National Geographic Magazine, Vol. 143, June 1973, pp. 819-829.

34. Hummer, Chris C., Creation Research Soc. Quarterly, Vol. 14l, Dec. 1977, pp. 168-172.

35. Hummer, Chris C., ibid., Vol. 15, March 1979, pp. 212-214; _________, ibid., Vol. 17, June 1980, pp. 26-27; Leakey, Richard E. and Roger Lewin, op.cit.(ref. 19), p. 84; Johanson, Donald C. and T.D. White, Science, Vol. 203, 26 Jan. 1979, pp. 321-330; Tobias, P.V., Nature,Vol. 246, 9 Nov. 1973, p. 80.

36. Bowden, M., op.cit.(ref. 19), pp. 205-208, 225-232.

37. Leakey, Richard E and Roger Lewin, op.cit.(ref. 16), p. 96.

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