Immature Kid? Blame Evolution
Why do older children linger at home longer than they should? Evolution, says Ker Than for Live Science. This insight of his is based on growth patterns of teeth from an alleged 160,000-year-old juvenile skeleton in Africa. Tanya Smith [Max Planck Institute] said of the bones, “These early fossils show a mix of primitive and derived features and paleoanthropologists are still debating whether they’re modern or on the way to being modern.” See more at a press release from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, another from the Max Planck Society, and reports on National Geographic and Science Daily, none of which question the interpretation.
Some of the articles, however, point out that this finding contradicts earlier beliefs because it puts a modern human characteristic farther back in time. The Science Daily piece points out that there is no consensus about when our ancestors became “modern” humans: “While fossil evidence tells a complex tale of mosaic change during the African Stone Age, almost nothing is known about changes in human ‘life history,’ or the timing of development, reproductive scheduling, and lifespan.” Still, even this admission does not question the basic assumption that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. National Geographic even speculates that tooth patterns suggest human ancestors 160,000 years ago had a complex social structure that was one of their survival strategies. But if this was a strategy, was it intentional? If so, how did early human social groups cause the children to mature more slowly? This was not explained. It was just taken for granted that evolution would somehow do it. One anthropologist was quoted as saying, “What we didn’t know was when the modern human condition of a long childhood and slow period of growth and development evolved,” – that was when, not if.
Why do science reporters and paleoanthropologists show such immature thinking? Such shallow knowledge of history and philosophy? Such unjustified inference from fragmentary evidence? Such blatant disregard for integrity in the noble enterprise of science? Blame evolution.