Do these skulls prove common ancestry between apes and humans?
Today’s feedback is from David B. who wrote in to us about transitional forms and human evolution.
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?
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,