Micro-primates ... a transitional form or just heel-bone hype?

Dr Jonathan Sarfati 

22 March 2000

In the Book of Genesis, God makes it very clear that man was created special on the sixth day of the Creation Week. Rejecting the Genesis account of history, evolutionists must search desperately to find an alternative explanation for man’s origin. Discoveries, such as the recent “micro-primate” fossil fragment, demonstrate the great lengths to which evolutionists will go to connect humans and animals.

Get the truth about the origin of man
Bones of Contention

Bones of Contention
Dr Marvin Lubenow

One of the best and most recent publications available that documents the intriguing background and information about so-called “ape-men.” Great chapters that help Christians understand why evolution cannot be accepted, and a section on who wrote Genesis.


According to these evolutionists, man belongs to a group of mammals known as primates. So-called higher primates are the man-made grouping of humans, apes and monkeys; while lower primates or prosimians, include lemurs and tarsiers. Now, some researchers led by Northern Illinois University paleontologist Dan Gebo claim to have discovered the smallest ever primate, thumb-sized and weighing 10 grams or 1/3 of an ounce. They also claim that it is a probable “missing link” between lower and higher primates. They reported their research in Journal of Human Evolution (London), April 2000.

This fossil was found in tons of muddy rubbish from a commercial limestone quarry 100 miles west of Shanghai, and the limestone is a Triassic rock “dated” at 220 million years old (see also our FAQ section on dating). This is right at the beginning of the alleged “Age of Dinosaurs”, so is unacceptable as a date for a primate. So the fossil is assigned the more acceptable date of 45 million years old (Eocene), because the limestone has some fissures that “date” to that age.

The researchers deduce some amazing things about these creatures. To quote the report Researchers Discover Fossils Of Tiny, Thumb-Length Primates?

“The researchers say the tiny primates were tree dwellers that relied on a steady diet of insects, fruit and nectar to fuel their high metabolisms. Unlike contemporary higher primates, the tiny primates likely were nocturnal and solitary creatures.

“‘The implication is staggering,’ Gebo said. ‘You would think that early higher primates would have a lot of characteristics of later higher primates, which were social creatures that occupied a daytime niche. It probably means we’re getting close to the transition between higher and lower primates.’”

However, what are all these claims based on? It turns out that they had no complete skeletons, but only foot bones, each about the size of a grain of rice! The fossil of what is claimed to be the smallest ever primate, is actually a heel bone discovered by team member Marian Dagosto, Gebo’s wife.

Creationists have no objection to tiny fossil primates, and these heel bones may well be correctly identified. But we are justifiably skeptical of such grand conclusions about their lifestyle and “missing link” status based on a few fragments of the skeleton.

Also, we must remember that evolutionary wishful thinking can cloud people’s judgment, so they read into the data far more than can reasonably be deduced. We should be reminded of Pakicetus, based on a few skull fragments, which was heavily touched up as a “missing link” between land mammals and whales, to indoctrinate schoolteachers—see this picture of Pakicetus: reconstruction vs. reality.

For more information on alleged apeman fossils, see Marvin Lubenow’s Bones of Contention, while Duane Gish’s Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! shows that the fossil record lacks the transitions between major groups required by evolution.

That evolutionists get so excited about such tiny bits of bone underlines the general lack of transitional fossils, which should be abundant if the evolution story were correct. Where fairly complete fossil skeletons are found, they are clearly not transitional, but where small bits are found and a lot of imagination can be applied, evolutionists are able to see transitional forms.

Published: 11 February 2006