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Originally published in Creation 16, no 4 (September 1994): 15.
A recent TIME magazine review article1 and others have highlighted the confusion reigning in the field of 'human evolution'.
So-called Homo erectus, in line with the trend among both creationists and evolutionists to see him as essentially Homo sapiens, is now being shown as quite human-looking, if one applied a comb and razor.
However, erectus finds in Java have now been redated (based on evolutionary assumptions) at two million years, while an Asian sapiens (so-called 'modern-type') skull is allegedly 200,000 years, and, not surprisingly, shows some of the features of the local population.
Both of these have thrown a lot of theories into chaos, and there are fierce debates raging, with some suggesting that the fossils indicate that evolution must have separately created the same species (us) several times in different parts of the globe. Not only would this be a hugely unlikely coincidence, it is denied by the molecular evidence showing that all races are genetically very close.
To try to make some sense out of the conflicting data, some evolutionists are considering a third theory — that erectus evolved outside Africa, then returned to the place where its more remote ancestors had arisen. If evolutionary dates are set aside, the erectus data make sense within a framework of post-Babel dispersion/genetic variation.2
The widely read TIME article includes the mandatory 'human evolution chart'. Unfortunately, it still features Lucy and other australopithecines as human ancestors, in spite of the fact that a growing number of evolutionary anatomists who have done objective studies on the bones have concluded that these creatures are not on the human line, are not intermediate between man and ape, and did not walk upright in the human manner.3
In spite of this, TIME still features Lucy as 'the long-sought "missing link" between apes and humans', and tells readers that researchers 'know' from its knee joint that it walked upright — without telling us that this joint was found miles away and at a different level!
The famous Laetoli volcanic ash footprints are featured as proof that Lucy-type creatures walked like humans — without telling us they are identical to human prints and thus would be classed as human (if not for the evolutionary 'age' of the ash in which they are preserved).
The TIME article got at least one thing right — that this is a 'data poor, imagination-rich' field in which there are 'so few clues' that 'even a single bone that doesn't fit into the picture can upset everything.'
'How Man Began', TIME (Australia), March 14, 1994.
See Marvin Lubenow, Bones of Contention — A Creationist Assessment of the Human Fossils, for a fascinating creationist overview of the human fossil record.
Charles Oxnard, Fossils, Teeth and Sex — New Perspectives on Human Evolution, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1987, p. 227.