No more love for Lucy?
Perhaps the most famous icon of human evolution in modern times may now have to be quietly discarded. For over the last thirty years, the supposedly 3.2 million year old Australopithecus afarensis specimen known as ‘Lucy’ has been boldly proclaimed as the ancestor of all humanity in magazines, television shows, books, newspapers, and museums. However, Tel Aviv University anthropologists have published a study casting serious doubt on Lucy’s role as mankind’s ape ancestor.1 Based on a comparative analysis of jaw bones in living and extinct primates, researchers concluded that Lucy and members of her kind should be ‘placed as the beginning of the branch that evolved in parallel to ours.’ In other words, by evolutionary reasoning, Lucy should no longer be considered to be our direct ancestor. Lucy’s demise falsifies thirty-three years of evolutionary hyperbole and propaganda. Instead, her proper designation as an extinct non-human, the ancestor of other non-human primates, is completely consistent with the predictions of biblical creation.
Lucy in competing origins models
In the evolutionary model, Lucy was held up as the ideal transitional fossil between ape and man. Only 40% complete, anthropologists speculated that she was a fully bipedal creature possessing the perfect blend of ape-like and human-like anatomical features.2
In the biblical creation model, Lucy is considered an ancient type of ape whose kind was specially created by God on the sixth day of creation about 6,000 years ago. Based on comprehensive skeletal analysis, Lucy and other members of the genus Australopithecus were likely tree-dwelling ape-like creatures who possessed very limited bipedality, as do the living apes of today.
Latest discoveries put the nail in the coffin
Last year, a supposedly 3.3 million year old fossil of a very young Australopithecus afarensis strongly corroborated creationist predictions—see The ‘Lucy Child’. This three-year old ape possessed a distinctly ape-like skull, a hyoid bone virtually identical to that of a chimpanzee (crushing any hopes for speech), a curved finger bone typical of tree dwelling apes, a gorilla-like shoulder blade commonly associated with tree climbing and knuckle walking, and inner ear characteristics that confirm a largely quadrupedal locomotion. Researchers have yet to excavate the feet of this specimen, but creationists predict that this extinct ape likely possessed a laterally projecting big toe and curved toe bones characteristic of the other great apes.
This year’s study further strengthens creationist predictions. Tel Aviv University anthropologists determined that Lucy’s mandibular ramus, or lower jaw bone, not only appears in Australopithecus robustus, but closely resembles that of a gorilla. As a result, the evolutionary researchers concluded that Lucy should no longer be considered man’s direct ancestor. As is typically the case in the field of human evolution, a single bone structure overturns years of grossly exaggerated claims.
Shifting sands of human evolution
No doubt evolutionary anthropologists will replace Lucy with a different candidate for the ancestor of humanity. This will come in the form of a currently known ‘hominid’ specimen or a future, sensational discovery. This is how the game is played. A single tooth, a fragmented jaw bone, or partial skull will throw the evolutionary community into a frenzy of speculation and exaggeration. Magazines, newspapers, television shows, school textbooks, and national museums will spread the latest ‘proof’ of human evolution like wildfire. But as years pass, more and more evidence will come to light, and the so-called ‘proof’ will meet a quiet death.
Winston Churchill once said, ‘Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ Simply stated, the evolutionary community continues to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Three powerful icons of human evolution have turned out to be utter ‘busts’ within the last one hundred years: Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, and Lucy. The trend could not be any more self-evident. After 100 or so years of intense anthropological investigation, the evolutionary model of human origins has yielded disappointment after disappointment. No clear link between ancient apes and human beings has ever been established. It is high time for a new direction in science.
Christians would do well to learn a lesson from the tenuous nature of scientific consensus. Today’s consensus can be tomorrow’s footnote. For decades, Neandertal was depicted as an ape-like, brutish animal. Now, a new consensus is rapidly emerging. Neandertals are fast becoming recognized as fully intelligent, fully functional human beings. For decades, Lucy was declared an indisputable link between humans and apes. Now, she’s joining the ranks of other discarded human ancestors. Those who repeatedly appeal to the scientific consensus of the day often put themselves in a precarious position when the consensus is eventually overturned.
As Christians, we are not to appeal to scientific consensus as the chief arbiter of historical and scientific investigation. Instead, we are to remain faithful to the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God, which provides us with the true history of the world. The Bible alone provides us with the proper historical framework in which to conduct our scientific study of the natural world. Had scientists studied Lucy through a biblical lens, she never would have had to suffer such an ignominious demotion.
- Siegel-Itzkovich, Judy, Israeli Researchers: ‘Lucy’ is not direct ancestor of humans, The Jerusalem Post, <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1176152801536&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull>, 16 April 2007. Return to Text.
- Her knee and ankle joints appeared to be more human-like. However, spider monkeys and orangutans share virtually the same knee joint angle (9 degrees) as humans, but they are in no way fully bipedal. The biblical creation model does not necessarily preclude the possibility of a fully bipedal ape. The point is that the diagnostic features of the australopithecines, when examined as a whole, always spoke strongly against full bipedality of the human type. This has also been confirmed by the angles of the organ of balance determined by CAT scans of fossil skulls. And Lucy herself has the wrist-locking mechanism of all knucklewalkers. Return to Text.