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Do these skulls prove common ancestry between apes and humans?

Published: 6 October 2018 (GMT+10)

Today’s feedback is from David B. who wrote in to us about transitional forms and human evolution.

A wall display of back-lit dire wolf skulls at the La Brea Tarpits museum in Los Angeles, California. Looking carefully, you can see that each skull is unique. There was a lot of variation in the shape of these animals.

To CMI Team

Thank you for your past previous responses.

I am now writing to find out more information regarding the creationist view regarding the alleged transitional forms of "early humans".

I was having another debate with my atheist about the topic.

I was so confident in defending the notion that, “there are no transitional forms, the fossils should be clearly be seen as either human or ape”.

I also went on to describe the dog skull analogy. IE many different variations of dog skulls, but they're still the same species.

I must admit, I didn't handle this argument very well, as I didn't carefully review the website (below link) before giving her my answer.

[link to a collection of fossil skulls deleted, as per site rules]

More so, I am somewhat disturbed by this fossil:

[link to the Hobbit fossil deleted, as per site rules]

While it appears to be human in form, I couldn't help noticing the skull features.

They do give a strong impression of being somewhere in between Ape and Human.

While I am still confident in the YEC perspective (especially when it comes to the debate of genetics / chemical evolution), I do not know what to make of this / ended up making a complete fool of myself during our debate.

Does anyone have any expertise on this matter, with which they can clarify further?


David B.

Joel Tay and Dr Robert Carter, CMI-US, respond:

Dear David B,

Thank you for writing in.

We would encourage you to search through our website as we have numerous articles on some of these fossils, including the ‘hobbit’ that you mention here. The best treatment on the subject of human evolution would be Contested Bones by Rupe and Sanford. This book also covers the ‘Hobbit’ you asked about. Also check out Bones of Contention by Marvin Lubenow, Apemen: ‘Missing Links’ & The Bible” (DVD), Artistic Ape Anecdotes: The Art of Deception (Video download), chapter 6 of Refuting Evolution, and “Is there evidence that man descended from the apes’.

I (that is, Joel Tay) like to use the dog-skull analogy this way. Imagine a paleontologist who is given a collection of various dog skulls (assuming he has never seen a dog bone before). He would almost certainly come to the conclusion that a pug is a different species from a greyhound (speciation is not a problem for biblical creation). But both are actually dogs and have the potential to interbreed. There is usually a range of diversity within each animal kind. We can’t tell from cranial morphology alone whether a creature can interbreed with another. Now, if this paleontologist were to construct an evolutionary-tree based on these dog bones, he would likely come to the wrong conclusion. Each dog would not necessarily be ancestral to the other. However, when it comes to human evolution, this same approach is often cited as ‘proof’ that humans and apes share a common ancestor. Evolutionists study a series of human and ape-like (australopithecine) bones and then arrange it into an imagery evolutionary tree based on common characteristics.


When I was doing my degree in evolutionary biology, one of the first exercises involved pouring out a whole bag of ‘stationeries’ on the table—Paper clips, pens, staples, etc. We were then told to rearrange the items according to their characteristics to form a nice evolutionary tree. Everyone did as they were told. At the end of the exercise, not only did everyone come up with a different evolutionary tree depending on what characteristics they were comparing, but the obvious point seemed to have been missed by all present—none of those things evolved from another. Rather, the evolutionary framework was first assumed and then imposed upon the collection of objects. Sadly, this is often what happens in paleontology circles.

Historically, when a fossil fits the preconceived ideology of human evolution, it is included as part of the human ancestral tree. When the evidence does not fit, the fossil is explained away as an evolutionary ‘side branch’ or as convergent/divergent evolution. “Heads I win; Tails you lose.” Evolution is always assumed and then imposed upon the evidence. Dating the fossils does not help. It is also common for evolutionists to use various dating methods, and then choose one that falls within or close to their expected evolutionary age for the fossil. For example, in the case of Homo naledi, the bones were initially given a date of 1.8 Ma (‘millions of years ago’) before testing was done. It was soon after re-dated it at 912 ka (‘thousands of years ago’) after a phylogenetic study. A couple of months later, it was tested and re-dated again at 236 ka to 414 ka. And, finally, a radiocarbon date of 33.0 ka to 35.5 ka was obtained. But obviously this radiocarbon date was too young to fit into their evolutionary timescale, so the researchers threw out this date, assuming that contamination must have occurred. In the end, they settled for a date of 236–335 ka. Evolution is assumed, and contradicting evidence is simply waved away.

The first link in your question included a link to a page with various skulls. Again, they all fall into two clear categories. Some are in the ‘ape-like’ australopithecine group, and the rest are clearly identifiable as humans. Australopithecines (e.g. Australopithecus afarensis) skulls are easy to distinguish from human skulls (Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis, etc.). Humans and australopithecines have some unique characteristics that allow us to classify them quite accurately into either group. Of course, it takes a bit of training to be able to compare the anatomy in detail, but even a person with minimal training should be able to notice some of these characteristics, such as the flat, more-vertical face of humans compared to the sloping face and ‘forehead’ of apes and australopithecines. The overall cranial structure, shape and size of the brain, teeth, etc., present many unique differences between humans from australopithecines. And apart from a few questionable fossils, most evolutionists agree that there is a clear distinction between australopithecines and humans, even as they try to blur the ‘transitional’ lines.

Even genetics support this distinction. Humans and chimp DNA were previously believed to be 98.5% similar, but this myth is now shown to be false. Recent research show that human and chimp DNA is only around 70–80% similar. They are too different to have shared any common ancestry, even assuming an evolutionary time frame of < 10 million years. At the same time, research on Homo neanderthalensis, and Denisovan DNA shown that they interbred with Homo sapiens. In other words, they are human, as most biblical creationists have always pointed out. Many of these remains are found in caves, which were formed during or after the global flood, so these humans represent post-flood people groups who descended from Noah.

H. floresiensis, the ‘Hobbit’, in the second link you included, is clearly human. Its overall morphology is very similar to what we would expect with a ‘dwarfed’ version of H. erectus which would make it fully human. There is some controversy in evolutionary circles whether the small cranial capacity is due to microcephaly, or due to the ‘island effect’. But even evolutionists, using their dating methods, would date the Hobbit far too young to be ancestral to Homo sapiens. Even if evolutionists classify the Hobbit as a new species (remember the dog analogy?), most evolutionists would unanimously agree that the Hobbit falls under the category of Homo (human). Thus, the Hobbit cannot be cited as a transitional form, nor can it be used to show that man evolved from australopithecines. The ‘Hobbit’ is just another human descendant of Noah.

For further reading on the subject, see: Fossil evidence for alleged apemen—Part 1: the genus Homo; and Fossil evidence for alleged apemen—Part 2: non-Homo hominids.

I hope that helps,

Joel Tay and Dr Robert Carter

Helpful Resources

Contested Bones
by Christopher Rupe, Dr. John Sanford
US $29.00
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Michael S.
That's a well written article, clear and concise. I think more nail in the coffin is simply the number of relics they find. Believe it or not the entirety of the bones for all australopithecines could fit onto a large table. This makes no sense whatsoever from an evolutionary perspective because where are all of the hundreds if not thousands of individuals leading to humans? If we went from ape-like to human, that would mean logically that between "ape-like" and "human" you would have very, very intelligent species, closer to humans than animals and yet they vanish without a trace? The far more parsimonious explanation occurs when we use Occam's razor to shave away the imaginary transitionals and come to the obvious logical conclusion with is that the pithecines were just an extinct type of ape. As for the fault in comparing skulls, the article deals with that beautifully.
Joel Tay
Thanks Michael S! I think the claim that we can fit all the fossils on a table needs to be updated a little. With the discovery of H. naledi a few years ago (which is really just a human being), and which I mention briefly in this article, researchers found over 1,500 bone fragments in a single cave system from at least 15 individuals. That would make it difficult to fit all the bones on a table, much less together with all the other fragments from other so-called hominid specimens. I prefer to say that all the bones would all fit within a coffin, rather than on a table.
Anne-Marie M.
I visited the Museum of Sydney, Australia 2016 and saw the Hobbit skeleton (tucked away below a staircase due to renovations - really difficult to find) A curator at the museum told me how it was a genuine transitional form because it was small and strangely shaped and its head was unusual. I told him quite honestly that I had seen a number of equally small strangely shaped unusual-headed people on the train journey into the city that morning. Completely unremarkable small skeleton.
Joel Tay
Thanks for sharing that interesting account.

Even using evolutionary dates, the Hobbit is dated too young for it to be a transitional form. How can it be transitional if the bones are younger than H. sapiens (modern humans)—even assuming the evolutionary long-ages are true)? But if it is regarded as a contemporary of modern humans, then the best the evolutionists can do in their faulty worldview is to regard the Hobbit as a side branch unrelated to the origin of modern humans. If what you say is true, the curator at the museum is badly mistaken.

The Hobbit takes on a somewhat erectus-like appearance except that it is much smaller in size (especially brain capacity), but it clearly a human being as we have explained here. It is not a 'missing link'.

Here are some previous articles by Peter Line on the Hobbit:

New study claims Hobbit was a new species

Fossil evidence for alleged apemen—Part 1: the genus Homo

Fossil evidence for alleged apemen—Part 2: non-Homo hominids

The Mysterious Hobbit.
Christian R.
What I have found of particular interest as of late is how statistical baraminology studies are also confirming creationist predictions that despite new fossil discoveries and similarities we share, apes and humans are still morphologically distinct.
Thomas R.
Population doubling times make the entire evolutionary story line look ridiculous.

If humans had been on the plane for the last 200k years, and the average doubling time for people were 4000 years, the implications would be insanely silly no matter how one tried to explain it.

1) 4K year doubling time has never been observed for any species or any population.

2) 4K year doubling time would spell extinction for any living thing on the planet.

3) 4K year doubling time would mean, at a minimum, 2^50 people today, an utterly silly population metric. (@10^30 people!!!!)

4) 4K year doubling time implies extreme population stasis. Something that has never been observed, and is so far removed from what has been observed, it boils down to nothing more than a fairytale.

5) Almost all animals and plants have a much, much faster doubling time than people, and a much, much longer evolutionary timeline, making population studies of those organisms exponentially more ridiculous than noted above.
Robert Carter
Good point. Please see Modelling biblical human population growth for more details on these arguments.

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