Reason 10: The Bible: The Human Fossil Record


 Reason 10: The Bible: The Human Fossil Record

The Science of Human Fossils

Scientific-Method1 Carl Sagan speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Francisco explained how science worked. 


“The most fundamental axioms and conclusions may be challenged”…and the prevailing hypothesis “must survive confrontation with observation”.. “Appeals to authority” he said “are impermissible and experiments must be reproducible”[1]


Sagan is referring to “Scientific Method” as the basis of science, which comes from the Latin root word meaning knowledge.  The problem with what Carl Sagan says and what actually takes place in the science of Evolution are two different things. Many secular scientists preach scientific method yet in practice their work is anything but scientific method.   The public elevates scientists as paragons of objectivity who are “Objective” with not having a “horse in the race”.   Therefore many of the claims and conclusions put forward in the media are not met with skepticism because the source is considered reliable and objective.  As we shall see, this is not the case when it comes to the human fossil record.

             The problem with “Human Evolution” not one aspect can be verified by “scientific method”, this is in contrast to other scientific observations and experiments such as the “Laws of thermodynamics” which can be verified by millions of scientific experiments.   The science of Human evolution is built on several assumed “presuppositions”.


  1.  The Studies of primates
  2. The arrangement of the fossil record
  3. The Molecular data


Primates are assumed to the ancestors of man because of similarities in behavior and looks. Though man is different than primates the assumption is built into the theory of human evolution even though it cannot be verified by science method.  The same is the case for the fossil record, one such example is “Lucy” also known as Australopithecus afarensis, “southern ape”, Lucy is assumed to be a descendent of man, without any method of testing the hypothesis through experimentation.

            An example of this is David Pilbeam of Harvard University as noted Marvin Lubenow in Bones of Contention.[2]


David Pilbeam….had convinced his fellow paleoanthropologist that a fossil form known as Ramapithecus was a hominid(Human).  The assessment was almost universally accepted even though it was based on the flimsiest of fossil evidence.  Later when Pilbeam found more abundant fossil evidence, it became obvious that  Ramapithecus had nothing to do with human origins.  In explaining where he and the paleoanthropological world had gone astray, Pilbeam’s confession reads almost like Shakespearean soliloquy:


Theory shapes the way we think about, even perceive, data….We are unaware of many of our assumptions..  Conflicting visions of these [evolutionary] human ancestors probably says more about our conflicting views of ourselves than about the actual fossil data…. In the course of rethinking my ideas about human evolution, I have changed somewhat as a scientist.  I am aware of the prevalence of implicit assumptions and try harder to dig them out of my own thinking… Theories have, in the past, clearly reflected our current ideologies instead of the actual data… I am more sober than I was about what the unwritten past can tell us.


Lucy-Human-or-ChimpWhen Lucy first arrived on the scene, newsmagazines such as Time and National Geographic noted that she had a head shaped like an ape, with a brain capacity the size of a large chimp’s—about one-third the size of a modern man’s. In an article that appeared in New Scientist, evolutionist Jeremy Cherfas noted: “Lucy, alias Australopithecus afarensis, had a skull very like a chimpanzee’s, and a brain to match” (1983, 93:172). Adrienne Zihlman observed: “Lucy’s fossil remains match up remarkably well with the bones of a pygmy chimp” (1984, 104:39). It should be no surprise then, that in Stern and Susman’s 1983 analysis of afarensis, they pointed out:

These findings of ours, in conjunction with Christie’s (1977), observation on enhanced rotation at the tibio-talar joint in AL 288-1, Tardieu’s (1979) deductions about greater voluntary rotation at the knee in AL 288-1, Senut’s (1981) and Feldesman’s (1982a) claims that the humerus of AL 288-1 is pongid in certain of its features, and Feldesman’s (1982b) demonstration that the ulna of AL 288-1 is most similar to that of Pan paniscus [a chimp—BH/BT], all seem to lead ineluctably to the conclusion that the Hadar hominid was vitally dependent on the trees for protection and/or sustenance (60:311).

All of these characteristics led inevitably to the conclusion that Lucy was simply a chimp-like creature. And yet, more than a decade earlier, Charles Oxnard, while at the University of Chicago, already had passed judgment on these creatures. His multivariate computer analyses indicated that the australopithecines were, in fact, nothing but knuckle-walking animals (1975).                             


You might well be asking yourself why this charade has been allowed to go on this long. The answer—woven around power, fame, and money—can be found in Johanson’s own words.

There is no such thing as a total lack of bias. I have it; everybody has it. The fossil hunter in the field has it.... In everybody who is looking for hominids, there is a strong urge to learn more about where the human line started. If you are working back at around three million, as I was, that is very seductive, because you begin to get an idea that that is where Homo did start. You begin straining your eyes to find Homo traits in fossils of that age.... Logical, maybe, but also biased. I was trying to jam evidence of dates into a pattern that would support conclusions about fossils which, on closer inspection, the fossils themselves would not sustain (Johanson and Edey, 1981, pp. 257,258, emp. added).

He went on to admit: “It is hard for me now to admit how tangled in that thicket I was. But the insidious thing about bias is that it does make one deaf to the cries of other evidence” (p. 277).

Some are asking if A. afarensis is more primitive than A. africanus, or if they are one and the same? Others point to the many chimp-like features, and question whether Lucy ever walked upright at all? But, in the March 1996 issue of National Geographic, Donald Johanson himself admitted: “Lucy has recently been dethroned” (189[3]:117, emp. added). His (and Lucy’s) “fifteen minutes of fame” are over. As Lee Berger declared: “One might say we are kicking Lucy out of the family tree” (as quoted in Shreeve, 1996). Fascinating, how often the hominid family tree is pruned!


2.  Nebraska Man (Hesperopithecus haroldcookii)

Nebraska-ManIn 1922 a single tooth was found in Pliocine deposits in western Nebraska. Dr. Henry Fairfeild Osborn of Columbia University, head of the American Museum of Natural History, determined that this tooth had characteristics of chimpanzee, Pithecanthropus (Java man), and man. From this he concluded that this was a missing link. In England Sir Grafton Elliot Smith, F.R.S., Professor of Anatomy of Manchester, fully supported Osborn (Bowden 1977, 46).

At the time a politician from Nebraska, W. J. Bryan, was campaigning in the courts against man being descended from the apes. Osborn stated;

...the Earth spoke to Byran from his own state of Nebraska. The Hesperopithecus tooth is like the still, small voice. Its sound is by no means easy to hear... This little tooth speaks volumes of truth, in that it affords evidence of man's descent from apes. (Bowden 1977, 46)

In 1922 the Illustrated London Times ran an artist's interpretation of Hesperopithecus and his wife, all from the remains of one tooth! A few years later more evidence was found and the tooth was determined to be from an extinct pig! Little publicity was given to the error.

In this case you see some of the ingredients of the pre-man game. A discovery is made, a prominent scientist(s) interprets the data in the framework of current scientific thinking. The popular press bridges the gap between the scientist and the lay person, and in the process "fills in" a few details. The man on the street is presented with an image, that will be retained, that man arose from apes.

In this case, how many people read the Illustrated London Times and were influenced by it? Probably many

  3. Piltdown Man[1]

also called Dawson's dawn man (Eoanthropus dawsoni), proposed species of extinct hominid whose fossil remains, discovered in England in1910–12, were later proved to be fraudulent. Piltdown man, whose fossils were sufficiently convincing to generate a scholarly controversy lasting more than 40 years, was one of the most successful hoaxes in the history of science.


 In a series of discoveries in 1910–12, Charles Dawson, an English lawyer and amateur geologist, found what appeared to be the fossilized fragments of a cranium, a jawbone, and other specimens in a gravel formation at Barkham Manor, on Piltdown Common near Lewes in Sussex. Dawson brought the specimens to Arthur Smith Woodward, keeper of the British Museum's paleontology department, who announced the find at a meeting of the Geological Society of London on Dec. 18, 1912. Woodward claimed that the fossils represented a previously unknown species of extinct hominid (E. dawsoni) that could be the missing evolutionary link between apes and early humans. His claims were eagerly and uncritically endorsed by some prominent English scientists, perhaps because the Piltdown fossils suggested that the British Isles had been an important site of early human evolution. 


Piltdown-man-Sir-Arthur-Keith As long as the remains were accorded a high antiquity, Piltdown man seemed a feasible alternative to Homo erectus (then known from scanty remains as Pithecanthropus) as an ancestor of modern humans. In 1926, however, the Piltdown gravels were found to be much less ancient than supposed, and from 1930, more finds of Pithecanthropus, the discoveries of the more primitive Australopithecus, and further examples of Neanderthal man left Piltdown man completely isolated in the evolutionary sequence. In 1953–54, as an outcome of these discoveries, an intensive scientific reexamination of the Piltdown remains showed them to be the skillfully disguised fragments of a quite modern human cranium (about 600 years old), the jaw and teeth of an orangutan, and the tooth probably of a chimpanzee, all fraudulently introduced into the shallow gravels. Chemical tests revealed that the fragments had been deliberately stained, some with chromium and others with acid iron sulfate solution (neither chromium nor sulfate occurs in the locality) and that, although the associated remains were of genuine extinct animals, they were not of British provenance. The teeth, too, had been subjected to artificial abrasion to simulate the human mode of flat wear. 


 Piltdown-man2The first solid evidence regarding the identity of the perpetrator emerged in 1996, two decades after a trunk marked with the initials M.A.C.H. had been discovered in storage at the British Museum in 1975. Upon analyzing bones found in the trunk, the British paleontologists Brian Gardiner and Andrew Currant found that they had been stained in the exact same way as the Piltdown fossils. The trunk apparently had belonged to Martin A.C. Hinton, who became keeper of zoology at the British Museum in 1936. Hinton, who in 1912 was working as a volunteer at the museum, may have treated and planted the Piltdown bones as a hoax in order to ensnare and embarrass A.S. Woodward, who had rebuffed Hinton's request for a weekly wage. Hinton presumably used the bones in the steamer trunk for practice before treating the bones used in the actual hoax.

 [1] Encyclopedia Britannica, 2004 “Piltdown Man”


4. Neanderthal Man was fully human.[4]


Neanderthal-manThe first Neanderthal skull was discovered in Gibraltar in 1848. Eight years

later the “original” Neanderthal man was discovered in a limestone quarry in the Neander Valley near Düsseldorf in Germany (“Neanderthal” literally means “Neander’s Valley”). The Neander Valley in turn was named after Joachim Neander, a 17th century German theologian who taught Latin in nearby Düsseldorf and preached sermons in the valley which later came to bear his name. 

Three years after the Neander Valley discovery, Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species in which he proposed that all life descended from a common ancestor. This includes humans who were thought to have evolved from some sort of ape-like ancestor. The Neanderthal man was subsequently reinterpreted by the scientists of the 19th century who came to see him as a sort of ape-man, an evolutionary link between man and ape. This view persisted into the 20th century. 

The “Old Man of La Chapelle-aux-Saints,” originally reconstructed by the famous 19th century French paleontologist Pierre Marcellin Boule, was the first nearly complete Neanderthal man skeleton discovered in the modern era. The “Old Man” had a severely curved spine. This combined with his large browridge and his low-vaulted cranium gave him a hunched over ape-man-like appearance. It was later determined that the Old Man suffered from a deforming bone disease. 

In the mid 1950’s American anatomists William Straus and A. J. Cave reexamined the Old Man of La Chapelle-aux-Saints. It was their conclusion that “if he could be reincarnated and placed in a New York subway provided he were bathed, shaved, and dressed in modern clothing it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention that some of its other denizens” (Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 32, pp. 348–63, December). 

The anatomical peculiarities of the Neanderthal men are known to exist within the normal boundaries of human variation potential. In other words, the Neanderthals were just regular humans who looked a little different than you and I do today (similar to how Australian aborigines look significantly different than Native American Indians and yet they are all human). 

The Neanderthals were known to bury their dead (whose bodies they covered in flowers), they used tools, worked withNeanderthal-man-Homo-Sapien animal hides, took care of each other and generally acted like humans act. There is no indication that they were the brutish beasts they are seen as by many today. Their brain cavity was actually much larger than the average brain today. 

It appears that many of the Neanderthals suffered from a Vitamin D deficiency. This caused their bones to grow soft and deformed. This has contributed the popular hunched-over ape-man misconception. The Vitamin D deficiency may simply be indicative of the era in which they lived. Vitamin D comes from fish oils and dairy products and is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to the sun. The Neanderthals obviously had a very poor diet. In addition to this, they appear to have spent much of their time taking shelter in caves. It is believed by many scholars that the Neanderthals lived during an Ice Age. This would explain their poor diets and lack of exposure to the sun. So, while the ape-man perspective has been shown to be false, Neanderthal man was certainly a caveman in the true sense of the word. 


[1] Bones of Contention,  Marvin L. Lubenow, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan,  1992, Pg. 18

[2] Ibid, pg. 24