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Lucy was a real swinger.
To support their contention that ape-like ancestors became human because they learned to walk upright, evolutionists would like to bring Lucy down from the trees. But paleoanthropologists David Green and Zeresenay Alemseged have determined Lucy’s cousins retained their anatomical equipment for swinging through the forest and therefore likely did just that.
“The question as to whether Australopithecus afarensis was strictly bipedal or if they also climbed trees has been intensely debated for more than 30 years,” Green explains. “These remarkable fossils provide strong evidence that these individuals were still climbing at this stage in human evolution.”
Australopithecus afarensis, of which the most well known specimen is “Lucy,” is an extinct ape widely accepted among evolutionists as a human ancestor that was acquiring features useful to a proto-human.
Some evolutionists, zealous to depict Lucy as bipedal, get offended at the Creation Museum’s anatomically correct reconstruction depicting her as a knuckle-walker and even ignore the evidence presented by other evolutionists that her wrists were well suited to supporting her weight. If Lucy and her cousins could be shown to have abandoned the trees, so much the better. Of course, evolutionary thinking always has a way to adapt to any data. So, since the latest data leaves the afarensis family flying through the air with the greatest of ease, that’s okay too.
By examining the shoulder blades, the researchers have determined that Selam, just like modern apes, was well-equipped for climbing.
Alemseged discovered a female juvenile Au. afarensis fossil, nicknamed “Selam,” in 2000. “Before DIK-1-1’s discovery,” he and Green write, ”the limited number of fossil scapulae [shoulder blades] provided only tentative clues that the australopith shoulder was apelike.”1 “Because shoulder blades are paper-thin, they rarely fossilize, and when they do, they are almost always fragmentary,” Alemseged says. “So finding both shoulder blades completely intact and attached to a skeleton of a known and pivotal species was like hitting the jackpot.” By examining them, the researchers have determined that Selam, just like modern apes, was well-equipped for climbing.
The shoulder has a ball-and-socket joint that provides excellent range of motion. Thanks to this joint, both humans and apes can raise their arms above their heads. In humans, the socket (glenoid fossa) is pointed to the side. But in apes, the socket is oriented more upwards, a helpful arrangement for animals that regularly dangle their body weight from their shoulders.
“The scapulae of the African apes, and to a lesser extent, Pongo [orangutans], differ from those of Homo [humans] in possessing more cranially oriented glenoid fossae, which may be an adaptation to more effectively distribute strain over the joint capsule during climbing and reaching when the upper limb is loaded.”2 Also, on the back of the scapula, the spine, a bony ridge to which muscles like the trapezius attach, is closer to the horizontal in humans, but “Suspensory great apes also possess obliquely oriented scapular spines.”3 (See the illustration.)
Green and Alemseged compared Selam’s shoulder blades to those of juvenile and adult australopithecines (afarensis and africanus), gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, Homo erectus, Homo floresiensis, and modern humans. Both sorts of extinct humans (H. erectus and H. floresiensis) had laterally facing sockets and the more or less horizontal scapular spines typical of modern humans.4 Selam’s shoulder blades, however, were in all ways ape-like and most closely matched the gorilla.5
“The apelike appearance of the most complete A. afarensis scapulae [i.e. Selam’s] strengthens the hypothesis that these hominins participated in a behavioral strategy that incorporated a considerable amount of arboreal behaviors in addition to bipedal locomotion,” they conclude.6 “This new find confirms the pivotal place that Lucy and Selam's species occupies in human evolution,” Alemseged says. “While bipedal like humans, A. afarensis was still a capable climber. Though not fully human, A. afarensis was clearly on its way.”
What is clear, actually, is that the evolutionists have found additional anatomical evidence that Australopithecus afarensis was just an ape. Nothing about the results screams “human” or “human-in-the-making” but only “ape.” Scooting australopithecines along the evolutionary path to “human-hood” is a job for the evolutionary imagination. But if Lucy and Selam were not extinct, they’d just be another exhibit in the ape section of the zoo. God created apes and humans on the same day about 6,000 years ago. Humans did not evolve from ape-like predecessors.
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