Member (Idle past 1006 days)
From: Klamath Falls, OR
Message 1 of 2 (598959)
01-04-2011 1:14 PM
How Creationism Explains Hominid Fossil Skulls
"The main cause, however, of innumerable intermediate links not now occurring everywhere throughout nature, depends on the very process of natural selection, through which new varieties continually take the places of and supplant their parent-forms. But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory."
-- Charles Darwin, 1859.
Out of all the different evidences for common descent, none is more powerful and compelling as the now-many fossils of seeming human ancestry, especially the skulls--the most obvious illustrations of evolutionary transition. When Jonathon Wells captioned the series of images progressing from primitive ape to modern man the "Ultimate Icon" of evolution, he was right. Upon the urging of the acolytes of Darwin's theory, the paleontological record went from destitute to rich with fossils of intermediate forms. It remains a false popular myth among the skeptics that intermediate forms are somehow lacking, that the "missing links" are still missing. For fifty years, a trip to a natural history museum should have been the remedy to that error. Nowadays, all it takes is an Internet search and a mouse click (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Human Evolution Evidence).
To this end, Douglas Theobald, in his web series, "29+ Evidences of Macroevolution," compiled a series of images of fossil skulls from the Smithsonian website. Sourcing that compilation, the following animated GIF illustrates that series.
(Images © 2000 Smithsonian Institution.)
For a static image and source details, see 29+ Evidences. The links in the list are now out of date, but I have updated the links in the following list.
- (A) Pan troglodytes, chimpanzee, modern
- (B) Australopithecus africanus, STS 5, 2.6 My
- (C) Australopithecus africanus, STS 71, 2.5 My
- (D) Homo habilis, KNM-ER 1813, 1.9 My
- (E) Homo habilis, OH 24, 1.8 My
- (F) Homo rudolfensis, KNM-ER 1470, 1.8 My
- (G) Homo erectus, Dmanisi cranium D2700, 1.75 My
- (H) Homo ergaster (early H. erectus), KNM-ER 3733, 1.75 My
- (I) Homo heidelbergensis, "Kabwe 1," 300,000 - 125,000 y
- (J) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, La Ferrassie 1, 70,000 y
- (K) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, La Chappelle-aux-Saints, 60,000 y
- (L) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, Le Moustier, 45,000 y
- (M) Homo sapiens sapiens, Cro-Magnon I, 30,000 y
- (N) Homo sapiens sapiens, modern
Do not misunderstand this series of skulls. It is not meant to illustrate a direct lineage. Instead, each species would be placed variously within a family tree, with a species similar to (but not the same as) a modern chimpanzee at the root of the tree and the species of modern humans at one of the tips of the many branches. Because of the diversity and uncertainty of ancestral history, we can not expect to either find or certainly identify any species exactly along the lineage of human ancestry.
The Evolutionary Explanation
But, we can expect to find features transitioning from ancestral features to modern features among the species in the family tree, because all species would be variously connected to the lineage of human ancestry. Three of the most obvious and relevant spectra of transitioning features are:
- Increasing cranium size. The ancestors had small brains, but modern humans have large brains.
- Decreasing snout protrusion. The ancestors had a long protruding snout like a chimpanzee, but modern humans have a snout that is flush with the face.
- Decreasing eyebrow protrusion. The ancestors had eyebrow ridges that protrude, but modern human eyebrows are flush with the forehead.
With progressing time, each of these three transitional qualities among the set of fossils progress roughly along each spectrum. This matches evolutionary expectations. Before Darwin, none of these fossil skulls were known, and nobody expected them. Darwin predicted that such transitions should be existent in the fossil record. The scientific adherents of Darwin's theory were motivated to look for them, and indeed they found them.
The Creationism Explanations
So how do creationists explain this evidence?
They certainly do not explain all of the evidence of hominid fossil skulls all at once. They seemingly do not ever bother with explaining the apparent transitions in the features of the whole of the fossil evidence. Instead, at best, they focus on the specifics, and they pigeonhole each specimen as either "human" or "ape," as their model demands.
The following table reports the creationist opinions, among four prominent creationist organizations, of the identities of seven of the fossil skulls in the above series.
For the transitional features among hominid fossil skulls that go from chimpanzee-like to human-like, there generally is little difficulty for the creationists on the two opposing ends of each spectrum. The problems emerge with the fossil specimens with features that fall within the middle of the spectra. In this case, two such specimens are KNM-ER 1813 (Homo habilis) and KNM-ER 1470 (Homo rudolfensis).
AiG (Answers in Genesis) is internally conflicted about whether Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis should be classified as human or ape. One of their contributing members, Dr. Todd Charles Wood, conducted a study using probabilistic methods that placed both species within the taxon of humans (Baraminological Analysis Places Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba in the Human Holobaramin). This upset some of the other members, who seemingly preferred to rely on their God-given intuition (Baraminological Analysis Places Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba in the Human Holobaramin: Discussion). They called the result a "false positive."
Some evolutionists find revealing irony in the disagreements among creationists. Jim Foley of TalkOrigins.org researched thoroughly and established that point beautifully (Comparison of all skulls). But, I find more relevance on the points where creationists agree. AiG is conflicted, but two prominent creationist organizations, ICR (Institute for Creation Research) and CMI (Creation Ministries International), both assert that KNM-ER 1813 (or the Homo habilis) is an ape and KNM-ER 1470 (or the Homo rudolfensis) is a human.
A. W. Mehlert of CMI says about KNM-ER 1813,
Whatever else may be said of the enigmatic specimen
ER 1813, its post-cranial features are very similar to those
of OH 62. Whatever the various authorities choose to call
these creatures, australopithecines or habilines, the fact
remains that apart from brain-size in a few of them, they all
still overwhelmingly display the same chimp-like features
of the 'early' specimens.
(Australopithecus and Homo habilis — Pre-Human Ancestors?)
Duane Gish of ICR says about the species of the KNM-ER 1813,
Furthermore, the postcranial skeleton (that portion of the skeleton below the skull) was every bit as primitive, or ape-like, as that of "Lucy," who is supposedly two million years older than this allegedly 1.8-million-year-old adult female, H. habilis. Recovery of the remains of the arm of this H. habilis fossil revealed the fact that, just as is true of apes, it had very long arms, with finger tips reaching almost down to the knees.
(Startling Discoveries Support Creation)
Peter Line of CMI says about the KNM-ER 1470,
The interpretation of fossil cranium KNM-ER 1470, from Koobi Fora, Kenya, which has a cranial capacity of about 752 cm[sup]3[/sup],has been problematic for both evolutionists and creationists. In 1999 creationist Bill Mehlert’s analysis, which focused on the disputed reconstruction of the face of cranium 1470, led him to believe that the cranium ‘looks increasingly like a larger-brained gracile australopithecine’. However, creationist Marvin Lubenow has long argued for its human status, and, in his revised and updated book Bones of Contention, recently stated that ‘comparisons suggest that skull 1470 is more modern than any of the Homo erectus fossils—even the Kow Swamp material, which is only about 10,000 years old’. Creationist Malcolm Bowden has also argued that KNM-ER 1470 is ‘simply a small human skull’. Although there are variations between specimens KNM-ER 1470 and KNM-ER 1813, much of it can be explained, according to evolutionist Wolpoff, ‘if we assume that the larger crania and faces with powerful postcanine dentitions (and their structural consequences) of specimens such as ER 1470 reflect body size differences’. Although a gorilla skull has been found with the same cranial capacity (752 cm[sup]3[/sup]) as that of KNM-ER 1470, the cranium of the latter is much more likely that of a human than an ape.
(Fossil evidence for alleged apemen—Part 1: the genus Homo)
Duane Gish of ICR says about the KNM-ER 1470,
The small cranial capacity for this skull is difficult to reconcile with the fact that everything else about it is reportedly essentially indistinguishable from modern man (Dr. Alec Cave, an English anatomist, has described the skull as "typically human"). Even the pigmy must possess a cranial capacity in excess of that reported for 1470, although an Australian aboriginal female with a cranial capacity of about 900 cc has been reported.
(Richard Leakey's Skull 1470)
So there is agreement that KNM-ER 1813 is an ape and KNM-ER 1470 is a human. Now, the following images are those two skulls. The first is the "ape," and the second is the "human."
(Image © 2001 msu.edu.)
This distinction between "human" and "ape," especially among the extinct species, is apparently not easy.
To illustrate the sort of contrast between ape and human that creationists should expect, the following images are of two more skulls. The first is modern ape (chimpanzee), and the second is modern human. The chimpanzee is the modern species most similar to the human species.
(Image © 2009 ConnecticutValleyBiological.com.)
Creationist authors often make a point that evolutionists are strongly conflicted about the identifications of hominid fossils. However, disagreements of classification are expected among evolutionists, because the theory itself expects the objective evidence to be ambiguously transitional. The theory of evolution expects messy transition and overlap, not only between "human" and "ape," but between all of the narrowest delineations of "ape" that may relate to the human ancestry.
Creationists, on the other hand, expect cut-and-dry delineations of created "kinds," of which all humans belong to a single "kind," all descended from Adam and Eve. There should be no ambiguity within the model of young-Earth creationism about which fossil specimens are human and which are not, and the criteria of such decisions would be predicted to be as plain as day. After all, according to Genesis, only one species was created in the image of God.
Edited by Admin, : Reduce table width.
Edited by Admin, : Change table background to make links more visible.