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After years of thorough dispute from creationist circles, the controversial Toumai skull—said to be the remains of an apeman—is now under another attack from evolutionists.
Critics, including the discoverer of Toumai, dispute the recent work of College de France paleontologist Michel Brunet, who National Geographic News labels Toumai’s “big defender.” Brunet, et al., published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in spring 2008 that purported to show that Toumai was approximately 7 million years old (based on radiometric dating of the soil where Toumai was found).
For Brunet and his colleagues, this study serves as more proof that Toumai represents an apeman “forebear” of humanity. But others say that the Toumai find is no more than the remains of a vulgar chimp, far too small to have been a human ancestor. National Geographic News reports:
Critics are incensed that he has given a hominid honorific (Sahelanthropus tchadensis) to a creature whose cranium, in their view, was too squashed to be that of a pre-cursor of Homo sapiens.
They calculate that Toumai's height was no more than 120 centimeters (four feet)—or that of an adult chimpanzee.
"They calculate that Toumai's height was no more than 120 centimeters (four feet)—or that of an adult chimpanzee."
Additionally, Toumai discoverer Alain Beauvilain of the University of Paris–Nanterre disputes Brunet’s dating estimate. Beauvilain argues, in a South African Journal of Science commentary that the Toumai skull was not “unearthed” (having been a part of the soil), but rather was simply found loose on the sand in Chad, where it was discovered.
Beauvilain also pointed out in his commentary that the Toumai skull was coated with a thick, blue, iron-based mineral that had clearly endured desert weathering. Thus, he concludes that the soil around the skull, and possibly the skull itself, have been tossed and turned and eroded, and thus basing the age of the skull on the age of the surrounding soil is a futile exercise.
“How many times was it exposed and reburied by shifting sands before being picked up?” Beauvilain asks. “It’s time to set the record straight,” he added to reporters. Beauvilain aims the same guns at a jawbone dubbed Abel also found in Chad, allegedly from a 3.5-million-year-old apeman.
Also of note is what National Geographic News reports on the lineage of ape to apeman to man:
Still unclear, though, is the exact line of genealogy from these small, rather ape-like creatures to the rise of the powerfully brained Homo sapiens.
They said it—not us! When looking at the supposed apeman lineage without evolutionary lenses, it becomes clear that all individuals reasonably fit, with some variation, in the category of either extinct apes or “extinct”—but modern—humans.
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