April 19, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Ethiopian Missing Link: Location, Location, Location

The Associated Press reported that a new fossil discovery proves the link between two ancestral species of man, and shows the change happening right before our eyes:

Fossils have long provided snapshots of the human family tree, but a new find in Africa gives scientists a kind of mini home movie showing man’s primal development.
    Because the 4.2-million-year-old fossil is from the same human ancestral hot spot in Ethiopia as remains from seven other human-like species, scientists can now fill in the gaps for the most complete evolutionary chain so far.
    “We just found the chain of evolution, the continuity through time,” said Ethiopian anthropologist Berhane Asfaw, co-author of the study being reported Thursday in the journal Nature.  “One form evolved to another.  This is evidence of evolution in one place through time.” 
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)

So what did they actually find?  Not a missing link or an intermediate form, but just another Australopithecus anamensis fossil, but in a location intermediate in the rock layers between Australopithecus and its supposed ancestor Ardipithecus:

The species, Australopithecus anamensis is not new, but its location is what helps explain the giant leap from one early phase of human-like development to the next, scientists say. All eight species were found in a region called the Middle Awash.
    “It’s like 12 frames of a home movie, but a home movie covering 6 million years,” said study lead author Tim White, co-director of Human Evolution Research Center at University of California at Berkeley.  Fossils in the region cover three major phases of human development.
    “The key here is the sequences,” White said.  “It’s about a mile thickness of rocks in the Middle Awash and in it we can see all three phases of human evolution.“
    Modern man belongs to the genus Homo, which is a subgroup in the family of hominids.  What evolved into Homo was likely the genus Australopithecus (once called “man-ape”), which includes the famed 3.2 million-year-old “Lucy” fossil found three decades ago.
    A key candidate for the genus that evolved into Australopithecus is called Ardipithecus.  And Thursday’s finding is important in bridging – but not completely – the gap between Australopithecus and Ardipithecus.
    In 1994, a 4.4 million-year-old partial skeleton of the species Ardipithecus ramidus – the most recent Ardipithecus species – was found about six miles from the latest discovery.
    “This appears to be the link between Australopithecus and Ardipithecus as two different species,” White said.  The major noticeable difference between the phases of man can be seen in Australopithecus’ bigger chewing teeth to eat harder food, he said.

Finally we get to the fine print and disclaimers.  It turns out they aren’t so sure as the headline would like you to believe:

While it’s looking more likely, it is not a sure thing that Ardipithecus evolved into Australopithecus, he said.  The finding does not completely rule out Ardipithecus dying off as a genus and Australopithecus developing independently.
    The connections between Ardipithecus and Australopithecus have been theorized since an anamensis fossil was first found in Kenya 11 years ago.  This draws the lines better, said Alan Walker of Penn State University, who found the first anamensis and is not part of White’s team.
    Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program, agreed: “For those people who are tied up in doing the whole human family tree, being able to connect the branches is a very important thing to do.”

This story was widely circulated in newspapers.

In yet another example of circular reasoning, White and team have assumed evolution, fit the data to the evolutionary just so story, and paraded the result as “proof” that evolution happened.  Evolutionists are so desperate to deal with the lack of intermediate fossils that now the location of a fossil qualifies it as somehow being intermediate.  Arranging fossils in some increasing order of complexity to prove evolution has been around for a long time, for example, the horse evolution series, but it doesn’t prove that evolution happened any more than arranging old cars in a junkyard in order of complexity proves they evolved.
    For an analysis of the human fossil data from a different worldview, read Marvin Lubenow’s classic book, Bones of Contention,  available from AIG.  Also, AIG has an excellent video critically analyzing the Lucy fossil, “Lucy, She’s No Lady,” by Dr. David Menton.

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Categories: Early Man

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