Wrong Again: Several Species of Homo Collapse Into One

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Posted on October 18, 2013 in Darwin and Evolution, Dating Methods, Dumb Ideas, Early Man, Fossils, Human Body, Mind and Brain

A well-preserved complete skull from Dmanisi, Georgia, has ignited a firestorm, threatening to declassify various claimed species of Homo into one, Homo erectus.

A paper in Science by Lordkipanidze et al. has upset the applecart of human evolution again.  (Evolutionists are in the business of upsetting applecarts; see 5/19/10).  The Abstract says,

The Dmanisi sample, which now comprises five crania, provides direct evidence for wide morphological variation within and among early Homo paleodemes. This implies the existence of a single evolving lineage of early Homo, with phylogeographic continuity across continents.

With a new well-preserved, complete Dmanisi fossil, researchers at the cave in Georgia (near the Black Sea) have found five crania with more morphological variation between them than between the various proposed species of Homo (Homo rudolfensis, Homo habilis, etc.).  This implies that all these assumed different species should be lumped into Homo erectus.  The BBC News calls this a “blow to the multiple species idea.”  All these types were just variations on the same kind, as shown in comparisons of the skulls side by side.

It should have been obvious.  Living humans exhibit a huge variation in morphology: height, robustness, facial features, limb length – yet they are all one species, Homo sapiens.  Perhaps fossil hunters have been a little too eager to split lineages in order to claim fame as discoverers of something new.

Evolutionists date the Dmanisi skulls at 1.8 million years, but other evolutionists claim members of the genus Homo existed in Africa long before that – 2.4 million years.  Yet the differences between these skulls are minor, considering the half million years supposedly separating them.

The news articles, like National Geographic, are still fond of calling the specimens “primitive” (they would have to be, to be claimed ancestors of us), but it is widely believed that Homo erectus (now encompassing three members of Homo) used fire, cooked food, and made tools (but somehow never dreamt of planting a farm or riding a horse).  Some even think they built floating craft to cross oceans (2/18/10)—a finding so startling it was compared to finding an iPod in King Tut’s Tomb.  This is but one example of unexpected modern behavior among “primitive” members of our genus Homo.  Ann Gibbons posted a reconstruction in Science of the individual making it look as primitive and hairy as possible, but actually, he looks kind of macho.  Earnest A. Hooton cautioned in 1946, “Put not your faith in reconstructions.”  Given the variation found among the skulls, how is one to know this one was typical?

The brain case of the new skull has been measured at 546 cc, about a third of many modern human skulls, but it’s not always size that counts. One must know the sex and maturity of the specimen, and examine the complex behavior of the individuals.  Consider, for instance that the debate about H. floresiensis continues, wondering whether they were members of Homo with even smaller skulls.  The Dmanisi skull shows a large face, protruding jaw, and large teeth.  None of those are necessarily correlated to intelligence or lack of it.  The person might look a little different walking down Broadway in a suit, but with upright posture and serious gaze, he would probably be accepted as human, no less peculiar than some from other countries.

One can only wonder, after this revelation, what will become of other alleged species of Homo, like the Denisovans, the Neanderthals, Heidelberg Man and the rest.  Another paper in Science suggested that the Denisovan peoples migrated across the “Wallace Line” in Indonesia, suggestive of good navigational skills.  Authors Cooper and Springer began by reminding readers of another recent upset: “The recent discovery of Denisovans and genetic evidence of their hybridization with modern human populations now found in Island Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific are intriguing and unexpected.”

Not all paleoanthropologists are prepared to accept what Nature says about this pruning of the family tree that implies “three early human species were one” —

Like so many finds, [the skull] adds to what we know, but does not necessarily clarify or simplify things,” says Robert Foley, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Cambridge, UK. Nevertheless, he notes, the results of the new analysis must change the way scientists think about the nature and magnitude of anatomical variation in early Homo.

Fred Spoor and Bernard Wood are particularly upset about the new lumping.  Wood wants to compare other skeletal features besides skulls.  He’s also worried that lumping could be the start of a destructive trend:

While he acknowledges that the Dmanisi humans are all likely the same species and can be difficult to categorize as Homo erectus or a separate species, he argues that it’s unreasonable to “bring the whole bloody house down” by lumping all early human fossils into a single lineage.

The house that Darwin built must survive the evidence thrown against it.

Update 10/20/13: Darren Curnoe wrote a caustic op-ed piece in Live Science about this latest upset.  While trying to explain that Lordkipanidze’s theory is not the last word, though, Curnoe may have done more harm than good.  He described the whole enterprise of paleoanthropology for the last 150 years as a series of sensational headline-grabbing contests by over-anxious individuals.  “This headline-grabbing approach to publication has become one of the pitfalls of modern academia” is just one such comment.  He also does damage to the process of interpreting skulls by showing the confusions of homoplasy (convergent evolution), confusions of age and bone condition, interpretation of traits, and other theory-laden rescue devices aimed at fitting bones into favored hypotheses.  If Lordkipanidze were right, Curnoe says, paleoanthropologists would have to get rid of Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo gautengensis, Homo ergaster, Homo georgicus, Homo soloensis, Homo pekinensis, Homo mauritanicus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo antecessor, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo helmei and Homo floresiensis, lumping all these into a single lineage, Homo erectus.

So, the entire ~2.4 million years of evolution of the genus Homo comprises, this new study proposes, at most two species: Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. These would both belong to a single evolutionary line rather than being separate twigs within a bush of species.

Most anthropologists would currently recognise at least nine and up to 17 species of Homo, so the pruning would be about as radical as one can imagine!

Curnoe considers this a throwback to mid-20th-century attempts at lumping.  Whoever wins this particularly contest may find himself sitting on the wreckage of public trust in paleoanthropology.  Do any of these headline-hunting fossil hunters know what they are talking about?

Update 10/28/13: Peter Line gave a creation interpretation about Dmanisi Skull 5 at Creation Ministries Intl.  He thinks some of the African Homo designations are australopithecine apes, but the Dmanisi skulls fit within human variability.

As usual, the evolutionists are trying to put a positive spin on all this, but it’s just the latest episode of “Everything You Know Is Wrong,” the Darwin Early Man series that plays at least once each year.  Consider how all the cover stories National Geographic touted in the 1950s and 1960s with their heroes Louis and Mary Leakey are mostly forgotten, material for the bird cage.  New tales are always in demand.  Rival teams keep trying to outdo each other for press prominence.  The other teams gnash their teeth at the team currently in the spotlight, finding fault with the methods or worrying that the new claim will “bring the whole bloody house down” – implying, undoubtedly, it will give support to the creationists, who believe humans have always been humans (morphological variations notwithstanding), and are not descended from apes by unguided processes of natural selection.  Leave the evolutionary paleoanthropologists be; they are the blind leading the blind.  Their procedure is: (1) Fall into the ditch.  (2)  Brush off the dirt.  (3) Rinse; repeat.

 

12 Comments

mmartin October 18, 2013

This is just so much fun — to watch the silly Darwin-House-o’-Cards come tumbling down. How utterly horrifying it must be to be an evolutionist these days…

Jon Saboe October 18, 2013

I still can’t figure out how the variety of shapes of alleged human ancestor skulls is greater than the variety of shapes of all modern human skulls.

Unless the alleged human ancestor skull was actually from some kind of ape — you could easily dress up the skull with flesh and clothes and you would not appear any stranger than any other random modern human.

ashleyhr October 18, 2013

Sorry, …

Editor October 18, 2013

Sorry, Ashley, you have an outstanding question to answer in order to get unblocked, since you earlier violated the rules. Where does reason come from? I’m sure if you had an answer you would be able to give one.

SirWilhelm October 18, 2013

There are ancient texts…

Charles October 18, 2013

The house that Darwin built has become a massive edifice, crumbling in every pillar, with its occupants rushing to try to patch up every new crack & structural failure.

Or maybe its like the (in)famous Winchester House — keep building & altering, or the ghosts will get you.

Dawkins and his followers have another way of dealing with the failures — just ignore them. (I believe this is called ignore-ance).

Let them build and alter and ignore, it makes no difference:

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it — Psalm 127

Editor October 18, 2013

SirWilhelm, since you keep using the Comments to stray off topic into your own peculiar beliefs about aliens, take your comments elsewhere.

Janny57 October 18, 2013

This just made me laugh!

QUOTE: While he acknowledges that the Dmanisi humans are all likely the same species and can be difficult to categorize as Homo erectus or a separate species, he argues that it’s unreasonable to “bring the whole bloody house down” by lumping all early human fossils into a single lineage. /quote

Isn’t science supposed be devoted to finding the facts? Keeping a fallacy alive is “reasonable?”

pastageek October 18, 2013

This reminds me of that wonderful book Bones of Contention. So glad to see evolution’s evil get pwnd.

Janny57 October 18, 2013

This ought to amuse you all. I shared this article with some Darwinists I’ve been debating and one of them came back and accused me (and you) of wanting to keep paleontology and evolutionary biology in the 19th century with Darwin.

Direct quote:

Janny57’s entire post was condemning them for discovering new fossils and making advances in the study of human origins!”

No, I have no idea how he got to that conclusion from your article or my brief commentary about it. I suspect he didn’t even read much of it.

Editor October 18, 2013

Thank you for the story. Your follow-up question should be, What if the “advance in the study of human origins” amounts to a return to what creationists have said all along? If so, it was a big detour, a complete waste of time. Worse, it led to some of the biggest atrocities against human rights ever seen.

Robert Byers October 18, 2013

So the evolutionists were wrong about their divisions! What happened to the science? If we had said they were wrong we would be called anti-science or worse!
A few dumb bones and all changes. Its stupid and unscientific.

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