Originally published in Creation 21, no 2 (March 1999): 49.
It’s already being hailed as a “momentous discovery”—the ultimate “missing link” in human evolution.
This is despite the reality that it could take more than a year to finish the excavation of this skeleton enough for definitive analyses to take place. The foot bones of this creature, dubbed “Little Foot,” have been known for some years. Some clever detective work located the rest of the skeleton, which is encased in a stalagmite in a cave at Sterkfontein in South Africa.
Preliminary indications are that Little Foot1 is an australopithecine, an ape-like creature about four feet tall with a brain one-third the size of modern humans.
The famous footprints at Laetoli are claimed to be “proof” that australopithecines walked upright. Why do evolutionists claim they must be australopithecine prints? Is it because they show the typical (curved) ape’s opposing “thumb-toe” of an australopithecine (shared by Little Foot)? Actually, no. Evolutionist Dr Richard Tuttle concluded that the prints were identical to those made by modern humans who walked habitually barefoot. The Laetoli footprints are claimed to be made by Australopithecus simply because the “dating” does not “allow” humans to have been around “then.”
Confusion in press circles about human evolution seems to mirror the confusion in [human] evolutionary circles. London’s Times on 4 August 1998 reported that the famous “Lucy” (so-called Australopithecus afarensis) “may not be a human ancestor after all.” London’s Daily Telegraph, reporting on the Little Foot find on 10 December, featured Australopithecus ramidus (complete with suitable “upright” reconstruction), as an ancestor, seemingly unaware that this has now been renamed to a different genus (Ardipithecus) and quietly shuffled off our family tree.
Actually, analysis of a whole bunch of australopithecine bones by top-flight anatomists2 long ago concluded that it was unlikely that they had “transitional” anatomy. While they may have walked for short spells “upright” (as do some modern apes), this was not in the human manner, but was a unique, rolling type of locomotion, the result of being primarily tree-dwellers.
We agree with those experts who, despite being evolutionists, insist that australopithecines were not in the human line, but were a unique group which spent most of their time in the trees. If anything, they were somewhat like today’s pygmy chimps. In other words, just another type of ape.
The fact that they did not walk upright in the human manner3 was further “clinched” by Dr Fred Spoor’s team using CAT scans on the skull to study the organ of balance. The results on australopithecines to date show they walked like apes, not humans. There is no reason to expect any different result if similar scans are permitted on Little Foot.
Little Foot may be relatively complete, which is important for creationists in that it will now be much harder for evolutionary inventiveness to “fill in the missing bits.” As paleoanthropologist Phillip Tobias says, “It’s now going to be possible to see what joins onto what, what kind of teeth go with what kind of hands and what kind of feet.”4
On reflection, this is quite an indictment on the confident way the public has been told about the “evidence” for human evolution. Remove the guiding faith that humans evolved—somehow—and the evidence is consistent with successive post-Flood migrations of a handful of separate created kinds, as discussed by University of Munich paleoanthropologist, Dr Sigrid Hartwig-Scherer.5