Paleoanthropologists Announce the Middle Man
In unison, the news media joined the most recent chorus over alleged fossil human ancestors: “Fossil find improves knowledge of human origins” (Live Science): “Fossils fill gap in human lineage,” (BBC News); “Ancient fossils fill gap in early human evolution” (Yahoo News); “Fossil discovery fills gap in human evolution” (MSNBC News, which adds, ‘We just found the chain of evolution, the continuity through time’); “Fossils clinch identity of Lucy’s Ancestor” (Science magazine); and the press release from UC Berkeley where Tim White, one of the discoverers, hails from, which calls the Middle Awash in Ethiopia “the world’s best window on human evolution.”
The claim is that the Ethiopian fragments of Australopithecus amarensis lie between its alleged predecessor Ardipithecus and the successor Australopithecus afarensis (a.k.a. Lucy). That makes this fossil somewhat of a Middle Awash man.
Veteran readers of these pages know the song and dance well enough not to give this more than a yawn. Do these few fragmentary bones and teeth fill in any gaps? John Hawks, a pro-evolution paleoanthropologist at Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison doesn’t think so; he said, “The finding of Au. anamensis within the already-known time range of Au. anamensis means that the new fossils haven’t really added much to the question of phylogenetic diversity in early hominids.” In other words, it’s like claiming, “we found a fossil trilobite within the range of fossil trilobites! This sheds new light on trilobite evolution and closes a gap in our knowledge!”
Ann Gibbons in the Science article quotes Tim White as claiming that “testing these hypotheses will require additional fossils from other sites” and Meave Leakey saying, “I don’t think that the published evidence shows [the link between A. ramidus and A. anamensis] very convincingly,” Gibbons advises, “stay tuned.” As with Tiktaalik (04/06/2006), the most important missing links lie buried in the future.
All three alleged hominoid species are members of extinct ape families, anyway, and have nothing to do with human ancestry. Only wishful thinking and allegiance to Charlie ties these fragments to his icon of the descent of man (illustration). As Jerry Bergman documented in a recent article for the CRS, the field of evolutionary paleoanthropology is filled with rivalry, contradiction, deception, exaggeration and outright fraud. Too bad the news media are all dupes; they think this is science instead of mud wrestling.