Where did man come from? Did he evolve from primitive ape-like creatures? The latest evidence has thrown anthropological theories into disarray and is compelling some drastic changes in evolutionary thinking.
Hardly a week goes by, it seems, without somebody finding a new-or should we say "old" — bone of some supposed early ancestor of mankind. Who, for example, has not heard of Neanderthal man, of Peking man, of Java man, of Australopithecus africanus or Cro-Magnon man? One-hundred fifty years ago "fossil men" were almost unheard of and most people believed man was a special creation of God. Today, hundreds of archaeological sites are yielding an impressive array of bones and artifacts, and many archaeologists and anthropologists seem convinced they represent the " evolution of man." But do they? Back in 1856, three years before Charles Darwin published his controversial theory of evolution in the book The Origin of Species, a high school teacher found the first nonmodern human fossil. He called the faceless, heavy-browed skull cap "Neanderthal man" after the Neander "thal" (valley) in Germany. Not much could be said about Neanderthal because no other bones were recovered, Then in 1908, near the village of La Chapelle aux-Saints in France, a complete skeleton of a Neanderthal man was discovered — the most complete, most exhaustively published, most frequently pictured, and most misunderstood Neanderthal specimen ever found. For decades, he was portrayed in countless cartoons, museum displays and anthropology books as bestial, shambling, stooped, with head thrust forward. Yet when two anatomists, William Strauss of Johns Hopkins University and Alec Cave of St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College in London, reexamined the skeleton, they found that much of his "primitive" stunted stature was due to arthritis in the spinal column. In their report they stated: "If he [Neanderthal man] could be reincarnated and placed in a New York subway — provided that he were bathed, shaved and dressed in modern clothing — it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention than some of its other denizens." The noted authority F. Clark Howell said: "Put him in a Brooks Brothers suit and send him down to the supermarket for some groceries [and] he might pass completely unnoticed. He might run a little shorter than the clerk serving him, but he would not necessarily be the shortest man in the place. He might be heavier — featured, squatter, and more muscular than most, but again he might be no more so than the porter handling the beer cases back in the stockroom." So our primitive, shuffling hunchback ancestor actually turns out to be not much different than modern man! The brain of the Neanderthals was amazingly large — averaging 1450 cubic centimeters (compared to only 1400 cc for the average modern man). This would imply that Neanderthals were at least as intelligent (perhaps more intelligent) as modern man! Neanderthal man even buried his dead, as evidenced by the Shanidar man of Iraq, who was buried with masses of wild flowers, including bachelor's buttons and hollyhocks. Apparently Neanderthals believed in an afterlife and were concerned about death. Surely a very human quality. Culturally, Neanderthal man may have been "inferior," but he was a man nevertheless. Since Neanderthals were so intelligent, why should evolutionists claim the Neanderthals evolved into "modern man"? The fossil evidence indicates they were a separate line and, in fact, did not slowly change into "modern forms." Equally puzzling is why they suddenly died out. Considering their great brain capacity and other qualities, no one has been able to give a reasonable explanation for why they no longer exist. Yet in many areas around the world, they suddenly disappeared with dramatic abruptness. Neanderthals are not the missing link in human evolution. Instead, they give every evidence of being intelligent men — maybe even a little more intelligent than you and I!
Fossils Show Evolution of Man?
But what about other fossil hominids? If you're like most people, you've probably heard about various fossils from creatures said to be our ancestors, but you don't really understand just where they're supposed to fit into man's evolution. That's not surprising, because few anthropologists agree on where they all fit in! In lining up the fossils, most anthropologists, or "bone men," usually start with something like Ramapithecus punjabicus (the ape or "pithecus" found in the Punjab Province of northern India). This apelike creature is said to be 14 million years old (by potassium-argon dating) and the ancestor of all true hominids, including man. The brain is only a few hundred cubic centimeters in capacity, and Ramapithecus is usually classified as a prehominid. Yet for the next 10 to 12 million years no "ancestors of man" are known! There is a complete blank in the record, even though one might expect hundreds of "missing links" if evolution had occurred. The distinguished evolutionist Dr. John Pfeiffer admits: "Practically nothing is known about his development during the period between fourteen million and about five million years ago, the biggest gap in the story of human evolution." The second type of fossil usually offered as Adam's distant relative is the Australopithecine. In 1924, Raymond Dart, professor of anatomy in Johannesburg, South Africa, found what he called Australopithecus africanus ("southern ape of Africa"). Dating methods placed it at three million years old and its brain size was about 500 cubic centimeters (about one-third the size of modern man's brain). Other Australopithecines seem to be four or five million years old. But there is no agreement among anthropologists as to whether they are really one of our ancestors. This is also true of the famous Zinjanthropus africanus skull, discovered by Mary D. Leakey, wife of the late Dr. Louis S. B. Leakey. Zinjanthropus, one of the Australopithecine type fossils, was a large "male" specimen, dated at 1.75 million years old. "Zinj" was first proclaimed a "missing link," but eventually Dr. Leakey himself disclaimed this. Instead, said Leakey, it had a common ancestor with man. The third type of fossil lined up in man's supposed evolutionary ancestry are the "ape men" called Homo erectus. The "Java man" and the "Peking man" are examples of these creatures, which are said to have lived 300 to 500 thousand years ago. Their average brain size is nearly 1000 cubic centimeters (about two-thirds the size of modern man's brain), which make them double the size of the Australopithecines. Actually, some of the Homo erectus skulls were nearly 1300 cc and thus were as large as many men living today! Neanderthal man, said to have lived from 100,000 to 35,000 years ago, is a fourth type of fossil cited by evolutionists. Neanderthal was robust and strong, and his brain, as explained before, was every bit as large as ours. Finally, we come to Cro-Magnon man ("modern man"), usually dated from 35,000 years ago to the present. Cro-Magnon man is often presented as a prime example of modern skull structure, with a brain capacity of about 1400 cc. Yet, strangely, no trace of Cro-Magnon has been found prior to his "recent" appearance on the world scene.
Lining Up the Evidence
Arranging all these fossils in what seems to be an orderly progression, a lot of people can "see" how evolution might have happened. On the surface it looks almost believable — until one begins to ask some probing questions, sees the inexplicable gaps, and comes to realize that even anthropologists differ profoundly on just what the evidence means. One striking fact is the scarcity of the fossil evidence. Although popular reports give an impression to the contrary, the truth is that all the known bones of supposed fossil ancestors of man could be easily contained in a small closet! Actually there are about as many ways of arranging the "evidence" for man's evolution as there are archaeologists and anthropologists. Consider some of the "family trees" proposed for man's evolution. Sir W. Le Gros Clark, the famed British paleontologist, has Homo sapiens the end product of evolution, but with no known ancestors! All the Australopithecines, the Pithecanthropines (Homo erectus) and even Neanderthal man are "branches" which are not in the line of modern man! (See illustration in PDF.) At the other extreme is the family tree of a well-known American anthropologist, C. Loring Brace. His "tree" has "everything" as an ancestor to modern man — Ramapithecus, Australopithecus, Homo erectus and Neanderthal. Then there are those who keep some ancestors but reject others. South African anthropologist Philip J. Tobias starts his tree with an ancestor of Australopithecus, which evolves into Homo erectus, to Neanderthal, to modern man. The various kinds of Australopithecines (such as Zinjanthropus) are put off in side branches. The late Dr. L. S. B. Leaky reasoned it this way: Kenyapithecus evolved into Homo erect us, which evolved into modern man. Leakey put most of the Pithecanthropines and the Neanderthals in a side branch. He 'even placed his famous "Zinj" fossil in a side branch, removing it from man's line of descent. After looking at these conflicting family trees, it should be clear that the postulated evolution of man is just that — a postulate, not really even a theory. As anthropologist F. Clark Howell has stated: "Anyone who feels that we already have the problem solved is surely deluding himself."
Stone Age Men Today
Of course, in any attempt to line up one creature or culture as being "later" than another, we must always remember that there are many "Stone-Age" men living today with other cultures in the "Space Age." The bushmen of South Africa and Australia are well-known examples. The Tasaday "Stone-Age" tribe (see photo on page 22 of PDF) on the Philippine island of Mindanao is still another example. Physiologically they are modern Homo sapiens! Yet their culture (their tools, life-styles, etc.) is earliest Stone Age! Today there are only a few dozen Tasaday left, and it is a wonder, say anthropologists, that they have managed to survive even this long. Their lack of development is almost unbelievable: They live without manmade shelter, with no clothing except for the occasional palm leaf. They grow no crops. Their only tools are a few roughly shaped pieces of stone, and their only food is wild berries, shrubs, a few grubs, and tadpoles from streams. Their language, although distinctly different, has a very limited vocabulary and almost no grammar — communication — is merely a few basic words haphazardly strung together. They have no art, no written language! The Tasaday could easily be mistaken for Homo erect us — supposedly one of our very distant ancestors!
In August 1972, Richard Leakey, son of the celebrated Dr. Louis S. B. Leakey, found an amazing skull near Lake Rudolph, Kenya. The skull was remarkably " modern" in appearance — yet it was dated (by the potassium argon method) at 2.8 million years old. This skull was a bombshell in archaeology. Skull 1470, as it was labeled, completely upset the whole evolutionary applecart for man's origins. Said Leakey: "It leaves in ruins the notion that all early fossils can be arranged in an orderly sequence of evolutionary change." Why was Leakey so concerned? Because the skull was a complete misfit! It is more modern in appearance than Homo erect us and has a large brain case-estimated at 800 cc. Yet it is so much older than Homo erect us that it just doesn't fit properly on the evolutionary chart. The evidence is that this man (or woman) lived contemporaneously with the primitive apelike creatures, the Australopithecines! Leakey said: "Either we toss out this skull or we toss out our theories of evolutionary change. It simply fits no previous models of human beginnings."
Ancestors from "Afar"?
In early, 1979, physical anthropologist Dr. Carl Johanson announced a new family tree for man based on some fascinating fossil finds in the Afar region of Africa. Johanson claims he has identified a new species of ape-man which he dubs Australopithecus afarensis (Afar ape-man). According to Johanson, such creatures existed from three to four million years ago, walked erect on a humanlike body, but had primitive teeth and a small skull like an ape. Since the Afar ape was "intermediate of what one thinks of as human and as ape," Johanson contends that "we can definitely place it in the zoological family of man." Consequently, Johanson asserts that Australopithecus african us is not an ancestor of man but is part of a "dead-end" side branch of the evolutionary tree. Yet other anthropologists are reluctant to relegate the famous Australopithecus fossils to "evolutionary dead ends" and are challenging Johanson's claims. Mary Leakey disputes Johanson's pronouncements and labels his work "not very scientific." One problem is that the footprints of Johanson's primitive hominids are almost indistinguishable from modern man. "They are," says Johanson, "virtually identical to modern feet." So, at least in terms of feet, there has supposedly been no evolution for millions of years! "Man's evolutionary tree," admits Johanson, "is looking more like an evolutionary bush." But as for Mary Leakey, Johanson contends that she "really shows a poor appreciation of what evolution is all about." The conclusion should be obvious: Nobody knows where man came from. Nobody, that is, who limits himself to only the physical evidence, On the other hand, the Word of God does provide an answer. Genesis reveals that it was God, not evolution, that made the first true men. "So God created man in his own image... male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27). Christians can accept the evidence that there are apes and monkeys that have certain resemblances to man. A variety of apelike creatures have undoubtedly lived that are now extinct. Indeed, the Bible allows for a world before Adam. But the evidence shows that ancient "apes" were not man's evolutionary ancestors; in fact, "primitive hominids" have never been shown to have evolved into anything! No, far from being the evolutionary progeny of primitive hominids, Adam and his descendants are the special creation of the Great God of the universe and have been placed on earth for a very special purpose. That purpose is made clear in the fascinating free booklet Why Were You Born?