March 2, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Tracking Human Ancestors

“Earliest human footprints found,” the BBC News announced, and National Geographic echoed, “Oldest Human Footprints With Modern Anatomy Found.”  Presumably these are to be distinguished as human rather than pre-human.  What was discovered?
    A photo of a modern-looking footprint accompanies the two articles.  The print was found in volcanic ash in Kenya dated by paleoanthropologists at 1.5 million years old.  The scientists infer that the being who made the prints walked upright and even “with a spring in his step,” as National Geographic put it.  “The size and spacing of the footprints indicate they were made by people with bodies similar to modern humans.  Given their age, the prints were most likely made by Homo erectus,” the article said.  The discoverers also inferred from the stride that the “people” of that time were also capable of running.
    Daniel Lieberman, a paleoanthropologist at the Harvard, felt that the print shows unambiguously that Homo erectus had a human-like foot.  “I would be surprised if this were not the case,” he told National Geographic.  “Because how could H. erectus have hunted more than a million years before the invention of tipped spears—as we know it did—without the ability to run well?”
    That raises the question of how a human foot evolved.  Older footprints from Laetoli are claimed to be 3.7 million years old and made by Australopithecus, largely from the stratigraphic position in the evolutionary timeline.  The BBC article claims those prints show a more flat foot and a “significantly higher angle between the big toe and the other toes, representative of a foot still adapted to grasping.”  At the time of discovery of those prints, however, National Geographic said they look indistinguishable from modern human footprints (see 03/12/2003).
Update 03/12/2009: Michael Oard commented on the latest footprint claim at Creation Ministries International.  Another footprint story made tracks this month.  Renne’s paper that claims the “Mexican footprint” strata is 1.3 million years old (see 11/30/2005) was published in the March issue of Geology.1  Gonzalez et al had claimed hundreds of human and animal footprints in the volcanic ash were made 44,000 years ago (see Mexican Footprints website).  Their 44,000-year date was already pushing the limit of credibility, but now, according to the Geology paper, the ash flow from a nearby volcano has been re-dated at 1.3 million years old.  “If the marks identified by Gonz�lez et al. (2006a) were of human origin, then they would probably belong to early Homo erectus (Ant�n and Swisher, 2004),” they said.  “This is unlikely, based on the known geographic distribution of these early hominids (Ant�n and Swisher, 2004) and the genetic and archaeological evidence for the peopling of the Americas (Goebel et al., 2008).”  They attribute the prints to marks made in recent years during quarrying operations at the site.  The marks were later enlarged by weathering and erosion.  If so, it appears the quarrymen walked barefoot (picture) with their children and animals.

1.  Feinberg et al, “Age constraints on alleged ‘footprints’ preserved in the Xalnene Tuff near Puebla, Mexico,” Geology, March 2009, v. 37, no. 3, p. 267-270, doi:10.1130/G24913A.1.

The Mexican footprint article basically sweeps away the footprint evidence because it is evolutionarily impossible for people to have walked at that location so long ago.  It also assumes their evolution-soaked dating methods are reliable, compounding error upon error.  Look at the prints on the proponents’ website; they look even more convincing than the ones in Kenya.
    Watch out whenever an evolutionist says “we know” something.  Clearly these evidences are being forced into an evolutionary timeline and declared to show a progression from ape to man.  A neutral observer, without being prepped by the Darwin Party on the consensus age of the tracks, would say the tracks were made by people.  It is their stratigraphic position that forces evolutionists to concoct a story that they were progressing up to personhood by slow and gradual steps.  Somehow, somewhere, sometime, as if by magic in their story, they crossed a divide, and the spark of our humanity was lit.  Clever fable, isn’t it?  Would that Paul Harvey, who died yesterday, were still with us to tell us “the rest of the story.”

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Categories: Early Man, Fossils

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