Researchers trying to create a primate phylogenetic tree are finding it isn’t as easy as they’d hoped.
A new paper in the journal Nature, authored by paleoanthropologists Bernard Wood and Terry Harrison and titled “The evolutionary context of the first hominins,” is critical of the claim that Ardipithecus ramidus (“Ardi”) was a bipedal ancestor of modern humans. In 2009, the journal Science devoted an entire issue to introducing Ardi and promoting it as a likely human ancestor. It seems that Nature is in something of a rivalry with Science now that it has published this authoritative paper. When constructing phylogenetic trees, evolutionary biologists generally seek to minimize homoplasy, or instances of convergent evolution. Wood and Harrison observe that the problem for Ardi is that if she is on the human line, then there must be high levels Read More ›
As discussed in previous posts, the $1,990,459 taxpayer funded Evolution Readiness Project recommends reading to fourth graders a book called Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution. The book gives a misleading picture of the development of biological thought when it comes to common ancestry. It says that when “scientists were creating systems to organize living things by placing them into groups,” the same “scientists thought, many different plants and animals had come from the same ancestors and had changed over time.” The problem is that this omits the glaring fact that the father of taxonomy himself, Carl Linnaeus, was not an evolutionist and in fact believed in the fixity of species. While no one–including Darwin critics–would endorse in the Read More ›
In some ways, the career of a missing link mirrors the career of the celebutante. They break onto the scene with much fanfare and hype. Everyone is wowed–or at least, everyone pretends to be wowed so nobody can be accused of ruining the party. Besides, she’s useful for advancing lots of agendas. After a little while, people realize that the star doesn’t have all the talent everyone hoped for. Nobody wants to feign excitement anymore. Eventually, people are sickened of the original hype and become eager to see the celebutante fall. And then it’s the fallen celebutante that starts making headlines. Substitute the word “missing link” for “celebutante” and this is something like what we’re now seeing with “Ardi,” the Read More ›
As I’ve discussed before, it’s often only when evolutionists think they have found some “missing link” that they feel safe enough to admit how little they actually knew about the alleged evolutionary transition in question. What happens when the link goes bust–as we’ve recently discussed is the case with Ida? We’re left with lots of admissions of ignorance about evolution and no links to fill the now-exposed gap. This is why Colin Tudge’s book about Ida, The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor (Little Brown & Co, 2009), is so intriguing. He thought he had a missing link to explain the early evolution of primates on the line that supposedly led to humans, so the book is filled with would-be retroactive Read More ›