Skip to comments.Biological anthropologists question claims for human ancestry
Posted on 02/18/2011 12:46:53 PM PST by SeekAndFind
"Too simple" and "not so fast" suggest biological anthropologists from the George Washington University and New York University about the origins of human ancestry. In the upcoming issue of the journal Nature, the anthropologists question the claims that several prominent fossil discoveries made in the last decade are our human ancestors. Instead, the authors offer a more nuanced explanation of the fossils' place in the Tree of Life. They conclude that instead of being our ancestors the fossils more likely belong to extinct distant cousins.
"Don't get me wrong, these are all important finds," said co-author Bernard Wood, University Professor of Human Origins and professor of Human Evolution Anatomy at GW and director of its Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology. "But to simply assume that anything found in that time range has to be a human ancestor is naïve."
The paper, "The evolutionary context of the first hominins," reconsiders the evolutionary relationships of fossils named Orrorin, Sahelanthropus and Ardipithecus, dating from four to seven million years ago, which have been claimed to be the earliest human ancestors. Ardipithecus, commonly known as "Ardi," was discovered in Ethiopia and was found to be radically different from what many researchers had expected for an early human ancestor. Nonetheless, the scientists who made the discovery were adamant it is a human ancestor.
"We are not saying that these fossils are definitively not early human ancestors," said co-author Terry Harrison, a professor in NYU's Department of Anthropology and director of its Center for the Study of Human Origins. "But their status has been presumed rather than adequately demonstrated, and there are a number of alternative interpretations that are possible. We believe that it is just as likely or more likely that they are fossil apes situated close to the ancestry of the living great ape and humans."
The authors are skeptical about the interpretation of the discoveries and advocate a more nuanced approach to classifying the fossils. Wood and Harrison argue that it is naïve to assume that all fossils are the ancestors of creatures alive today and also note that shared morphology or homoplasy the same characteristics seen in species of different ancestry was not taken into account by the scientists who found and described the fossils. For example, the authors claim that for Ardipithecus to be a human ancestor, one must assume that homoplasy does not exist in our lineage, but is common in the lineages closest to ours. The authors suggest there are a number of potential interpretations of these fossils and that being a human ancestor is by no means the simplest, or most parsimonious explanation.
The scientific community has long concluded that the human lineage diverged from that of the chimpanzee six to eight million years ago. It is easy to differentiate between the fossils of a modern-day chimpanzee and a modern human. However, it is more difficult to differentiate between the two species when examining fossils that are closer to their common ancestor, as is the case with Orrorin, Sahelanthropus, and Ardipithecus.
In their paper, Wood and Harrison caution that history has shown how uncritical reliance on a few similarities between fossil apes and humans can lead to incorrect assumptions about evolutionary relationships. They point to the case of Ramapithecus, a species of fossil ape from south Asia, which was mistakenly assumed to be an early human ancestor in the 1960s and 1970s, but later found to be a close relative of the orangutan.
Similarly, Oreopithecus bambolii, a fossil ape from Italy shares many similarities with early human ancestors, including features of the skeleton that suggest that it may have been well adapted for walking on two legs. However, the authors observe, enough is known of its anatomy to show that it is a fossil ape that is only distantly related to humans, and that it acquired many "human-like" features in parallel.
Wood and Harrison point to the small canines in Ardipithecus and Sahelanthropus as possibly the most convincing evidence to support their status as early human ancestors. However, canine reduction was not unique to the human lineage for it occurred independently in several lineages of fossil apes (e.g., Oreopithecus, Ouranopithecus and Gigantopithecus) presumably as a result of similar shifts in dietary behavior.
Related to this, FROM THIS SCIENCE DAILY WEBSITE:
Fossils May Look Like Human Bones: Biological Anthropologists Question Claims for Human Ancestry
Science Dailys coverage of the Nature article included a picture of an orangutan as an instance of false identification of human ancestry. Ramapithecus, a species of fossil ape from south Asia, was mistakenly assumed to be an early human ancestor in the 1960s and 1970s, but later found to be a close relative of the orangutan. A mistake like that could certainly not be made today...or could it?
The debunkers do not question human evolution itself, but their own more nuanced explanation requires believing that sister groups acquired human-like characteristics in parallel.
From the article:
The authors suggest there are a number of potential interpretations of these fossils and that being a human ancestor is by no means the simplest, or most parsimonious explanation.
That would seem to leave a lot of room for speculation, to say nothing of upsetting textbook explanations that have been like gospel truth for decades.
Obligatory fossil image.
That’s not an ancestor or a cousin. That’s an alien life form.
Gee, not wanting to just assume everything theorized is fact ? Wow, it’s starting to almost sound scientific...
And who would have thought that Woody Harrelson could come up with this ?
Grant Money is Forever!!!
Show me a fossil. Any fossil. Any animal. Any age. I will make the above statement about it, and I will be 100% correct.
Evolution is junk science, at the level of global warming.
Somewhere, something went terribly wrong.
ht looks like a chimp to me
Sadly, what they share in common is that both disciplines are so overrun by ideologues that it's hard to take many of their arguments seriously.
I love the conundrum of how many humans have been born and lived on the earth - by some estimates 106 billion. Which begs the question; where are all their bones????
To authentically represent evolution - homo sapiens on the chair should weigh in at 400 pounds;)
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Where are your great-great-great-grandparents’ bones? That’s 32 full skeletons’ worth of bones.
Anybody wishing to be on the anti-evolution ping list should contact me via freepmail.
What? No bones? Obviously my great-great-great-grandparents did not exist, even if I know their purported identity.
As the great David Byrne said: “And you may ask yourself - ‘Well, how did I get here?’”
“Evolution is junk science, at the level of global warming”
So I guess you’ve got some “creation science” to back up this conclusion? THAT is where you’ll find “junk science” in abundance.
Truly amazing how someone with a preconceived agenda can pull a single sentence out of context and run off with a complete idea to substantiate their preconceived prejudices.
I actually took the time, on my slow internet connection, to download and listen to your Dr. Menton.
Scientifically, all he does is make the case that "Lucy" was actually more ape-like and less human than Johnason, the Leaky's and other scientists originally believed.
Exactly how valid Menton's arguments are, no non-specialist can evaluate except by reference to the arguments of other technical experts.
But if Menton is correct, that begs the question: how certain are we, really, that Lucy's species made the famous footprints long associated with her?
The problem could be resolved if or when other Lucy type hip bones are found, added to those of species before and after Lucy -- either confirming or refuting Menton's arguments.
Theologically, Menton makes no case whatever against what even his own statistics show: that 80% of those who accept the scientific theory of evolution believe that it was directed by God and according to His plan -- Theistic Evolutionism.
So, when you make your arguments against atheistic evolutionism, you are only talking about 10% of people.
Everyone else, 90%, believes either that:
Sure, it's true that some scientists have stretched their evidence as far as it would go, and that's why new scientific discoveries are always correcting old scientific ideas -- it's what science does, it's how science works.
So Menton's argument that Lucy was really more ape-like than human is interesting scientifically, but has no particular theoretical or theological implications, imho.
This article makes a lot of sense to me. We have so few specimins from that far back it’s really hard to say what we know.
Subtle Shifts, Not Major Sweeps, Drove Human Evolution
Puts all of the pieces into a logical perspective:
Center for Scientific Creation - In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood
I think what this article shows, is the arrogance of those who claim to be engaged in a scientific endeavor.
The authors of the piece are suggesting that the "scientific" claims made in response to these finds, are actually just a case of jumping to conclusions based on assumptions rather than evidence.
I'm not a "creationist" by any stretch, but I have long objected to that sort of scientific arrogance, especially where evolutionary theory is concerned. It so often becomes an exercise in circular logic -- X has been discovered; evolution is true so no other hypotheses can be true; therefore X must be proof of evolution.
Scientists aren't saints. Sure, they all adhere to the principle of the scientific method. Except, sometimes, in cases where their pet theories and grant money are concerned..... just like any other human, in other words.
“Puts all of the pieces into a logical perspective:”
Only for those of little faith and even less scientific understanding.
So let’s hear your explanation for polystrate fossils?
I have far more scientific understanding than you presume.
“So lets hear your explanation for polystrate fossils?
I have far more scientific understanding than you presume.”
So let’s hear your explanation of why your faith is so weak that you have to use fake science to bolster your belief in God?
All “creation science” is a lie, just like Global Warming.
your remarks are juvenile and cowardly - what are you afraid of?
“your remarks are juvenile and cowardly - what are you afraid of?”
Friend, you started it. So just say your piece. I don’t argue with fundamentalists - I wouldn’t question someone who simply has faith that what is in the Bible is true. That is intellectually consistent.
People like you have some sort of twisted faith that is threatened by the scientific method, and research, and peer-reviewed articles on evolutionary topics. I don’t know why, but I know your type has neither faith nor understanding of science.
I know far more about this twisted version of evangelical faith than you may presume.
Your assumptions speak volumes. You challenged creation science as not being true science, in response I posted a link for you to educate yourself. Instead you continue to act as some sort of authority while doing nothing but throwing stones.
Guess what? If you’re so sure of your position there may be a million dollars in it for you - course you need some credentials of someone else with credentials to help back up your position. The problem is you have not spent anytime investigating the problems involved w/ long ages macro-evolution.
or [not of]
someone else with credentials
“You challenged creation science as not being true science”
I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I do not challenge “creation science”. I wholly dismiss it as the fraud that it is.
“Guess what? If youre so sure of your position there may be a million dollars in it for you”
No sane person would actually pit the scientific body of knowledge against the fabrication of “creation science” for money.
“The problem is you have not spent anytime investigating the problems involved w/ long ages macro-evolution.”
There are lots of problems with evolutionary theories. Actually there are lots of problems with many theories on many scientific topics.
I was recently reading about gravitational anomalies - “creation science” would extrapolate that to be “Newton is a liar” and to deny gravity exists because there are “problems with the theory of Gravity”.
In other words, you are asking that “creation science” to be compared on equal footing with giants of science that created the best understanding possible of the world around us that man can provide over thousands of years of effort.
If there were any discoveries of scientific note, they’d be part of the scientific body of knowledge.
Here’s your chance to spend an hour and widen your horizons - the hydroplate theory.
Oh and there is a $1million dollar challenge for evolutionary scientists to debate Dr. Walt Brown Ph.D. regarding his creationscience.com.
Have a nice day.
“Oh and there is a $1million dollar challenge for evolutionary scientists to debate Dr. Walt Brown Ph.D. regarding his creationscience.com.”
I don’t even have to look for the fine print on this “challenge” to know that it’s bogus. I won’t even bother to find the specifics because I know what he is trying to do.
First, he issues a “challenge” to “debate” - trying to frame the debate as one of two equal viewpoints, when they are no such thing - not even close.
Second, when nobody agrees to “debate” him (because research is not “debated” - it is studied, analyzed and tested) - He’ll claim some sort of victory over science.
It will be for his followers consumption only, because his problem is that nobody of any intellectual weight takes him seriously, because there is no reason to take him seriously.
I love the “hydroplate theory” construct. Thanks for that laugh. The “great flood” must be proven literally true, so geology and astrophysics - among other scientific disciplines - must be discarded.
Amusing stuff. You don’t really believe this do you?
It’s like “speaking in tongues”, isn’t it? Nobody really believes it - but they all think everyone else does, so they play along - and before long, you have a whole congregation babbling nonsense.
It’s the same with “creation science”.
Well you got one thing right ~ one thing I can agree with...
“the debate as one of two equal viewpoints, when they are no such thing - not even close.”
Go ahead and tell yourself evolution is truly science and can prove anything involving millions let alone billions of years when we have nothing concrete with which to tie those beliefs. Their own natural clocks defy them with contradictions and assumptions. IF radiometric dating techniques were true we’d have plenty of other natural clocks to back them up. Recession of the moon alone proves a young earth and universe. The heat given off by Earth and other planets indicate a young universe.
Albert Einstein showed that gravity affects the apparent passage of time ~ basically that the weaker the gravitational pull the faster the apparent movement of the astronomic clocks.
The human race is always trying to leave some imprints or their time here - imprints in history that do not cover anything beyond a few thousand years.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg with how much evidence is ignored, hushed-up, or just plain covered-up that completely disqualifies evolution as a valid scientific theory.
A ‘scientific discipline’ which contains more lies and outright fraud than all of the other branches of science combined.
A ‘scientific discipline’ that would and should be completely discarded if not for the governmental and other tainted monies that entice scientists to ‘prove’ yet another missing transitional species or ‘epic’ discovery.
A ‘scientific discipline’ that has done nothing for the betterment of mankind.
Do you know what Charles Darwin himself said about his own theory? Do you really?
If they do not find millions upon millions of transitional fossils than his theory completely falls apart [paraphrased].
I’m done here though because you are too close-minded to even read any opposing texts or viewpoints ~ let alone begin to comprehend the truth Dr. Brown has exposed for any willing to see how all of the scientific and historical findings fit into this jigsaw puzzle of facts and other nonsensical assumptions declared to be fact.
“Im done here though because you....”
No, You are done because you listen to the seductive lies of charismatic creationists and erroneously believe them to be fact.
With this exchange I am not attempting to change your opinion.
I hope that some young impressionable person reads this and realizes that a lie spoken with confidence does not make a truth - which is the entire game of charismatic creationists.
You’ve taught a valuable lesson with this exchange to anyone who has followed it. You are sacrificed - you cannot be salvaged. But someone who reads this exchange might be able to discern the passive aggressivity of “creation science”. The desperate desire to be noticed by a God that you so obviously have so little faith in - and to be accepted as legitimate science - despite your failure to accomplish anything in academia or the research realms.
Good luck to you. You’ll need it.
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