Neanderthals: Are They Us, or Are We Them (or Both)? Overcoming the Icons of Evolution

Who were the Neanderthals? Were they ape-like primitives with low intelligence, or were they more like us–perhaps nearly identical to modern humans in both body and mind? Biology textbooks often portray Neanderthals as unintelligent versions of modern humans. For example, this graphic from Biology: The Dynamics of Life (pg. 483, 2000 ed.) portrays Neanderthals as stooped primitives struggling kill a giant bear using clubs, spears, and incompetently, a burning stick: But according to a recent article in the Washington Post, Neanderthals may have been virtually indistinguishable from modern humans in terms of both their appearance and intelligence. A lead author on the study declared that “we would understand both to be human. There’s good reason to think that they did Read More ›

Time Aping over Human-Chimp Genetic Similarities

The current issue of Time features a cover story preaching evolution to the skeptical public and editorializing that humans and chimps are related. Though the cover graphic (below) shows half-human, half-chimp iconography, University of North Carolina, Charlotte anthropologist Jonathan Marks warns us against “exhibit[ing] the same old fallacies: … humanizing apes and ape-ifying humans” (What It Means to be 98% Chimpanzee, pg. xv [2002]). The cover-graphic commits both fallacies: The article also claims that it’s easy to see “how closely the great apes–gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans–resemble us,” but then observes in a contradictory fashion that “agriculture, language, art, music, technology and philosophy” are “achievements that make us profoundly different from chimpanzees.” Perhaps Michael Ruse was wise to ask “[w]here Read More ›

Media Goes Ga-Ga Over Baby Australopithecine Fossil

An exciting find was recently reported as scientists discovered what may be the most complete australopithecine fossil specimen ever found. It is reported to be a toddler. Unfortunately, the media is misrepresenting this fossil as if it closely mimics humans. Consider the diagram below which comes from the Seattle Times (“Scientists Find Fossil Child from 3.3 Million Years Ago,” Thursday Sept. 21, 2006, pg. A2): Does Australopithecus afarensis really look so similar to humans? This diagram is extremely misleading. Consider a diagram from an actual scientific paper which reveals the stark differences between Australopithecus (right) and the earliest members of our genus, Homo (left): (From covering the Hawks et al. paper) The media is calling this baby fossil “a Read More ›

Evidence for Human Evolution Still Scant and Controversial After 25 Years

A post made 2 weeks ago highlighted how in 1981, Constance Holden wrote in Science that emotions, rather than abundant evidence, often rule the field of paleoanthropology and its claims about human evolution. Yesterday, an article by Charles Matthews in the San Jose Mercury News reiterates that same point. Reviewing a book by Ann Gibbons, Matthews notes: “Gibbons, who reports on human evolution for Science magazine, gives a lucid account of the science involved in finding fossils, establishing how old they are, and ascertaining whether they in fact belong to the ancestors of humankind. She also shows how difficult and sometimes dangerous the work of hunting for 7 million-year-old fossils can be. And that, like most humans, anthropologists are subject Read More ›

Media Overblows Claims of “Human Evolution”: Examining the Newest “Missing Link”

Recently I highlighted how the coverage of Tiktaalik revealed the fascinating phenomenon that only after discovering a new “missing link” will evolutionists acknowledge the previously paltry state of fossil evidence for evolution. This behavior is again witnessed in coverage of the discovery of Australopithecus anamensis fossils in Ethiopia. The media has also exaggerated and overblown claims that this evidence supports “human evolution.” The latest “missing link” is actually comprised of a few tooth and bone fragments of Au. anamensis, an ape-like species that lived a little over 4 million years ago. Incredibly, claims of “intermediacy” are based upon 2-3 fragmented canines of “intermediate” size and shape. This has now led to grand claims in the media of finding a “missing Read More ›