March 22, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Laetoli Footprints Fully Modern Too Early

Science Daily has reported a bombshell announcement from the University of Arizona School of Anthropology: the famous Laetoli footprints in Africa said to be 3.6 million years old are identical to modern human prints.

“Based on previous analyses of the skeletons of Australopithecus afarensis, we expected that the Laetoli footprints would resemble those of someone walking with a bent knee, bent hip gait typical of chimpanzees, and not the striding gait normally used by modern humans,” [David] Raichlen said.  “But to our surprise, the Laetoli footprints fall completely within the range of normal human footprints.

They weren’t quite ready to abandon the human-evolution story, though.  Biological anthropologist Adam Gordon reassured readers that this unexpected detail still can fit the tale from chimp to man: “What is fascinating about this study is that it suggests that, at a time when our ancestors had an anatomy well-suited to spending a significant amount of time in the trees, they had already developed a highly efficient, modern human-like mode of bipedalism.”  The tree-people just saved up their evolutionary novelty for a couple of million years until the time was right.  Gordon explained:

“The fossil record indicates that our ancestors did not make a full-time commitment to leaving the trees and walking on the ground until well over a million years after these (Laetoli) prints were made.  The fact that partially tree-dwelling animals, like Lucy, had such a remarkably modern gait is a testament to the importance of energetic efficiency in moving around on two legs,” Gordon said.

That was a very deft sidestep from evolutionary theory to physics.  Maybe it was inherited from that time of full-time commitment.  The article tiptoed around the implications: “The fossil footprints at Laetoli preserve a remarkably even depth at the toe and heel, just like those of modern humans,” it said.  Right before Gordon did his sidestep, the article teased, “If the Laetoli footprints were made by Lucy’s species, as most scientists agree to be the case, these experimental results have interesting implications for the timing of evolutionary events.
    Science Daily swallowed Gordon’s quasi-Lamarckian explanation and sanctified it as scientific evidence: not just for a bipedal gait, but also the whole human evolution story: “Evidence Indicates Humans’ Early Tree-Dwelling Ancestors Were Also Bipedal.”

There you see it: another apparition of the Precambrian Rabbit (02/18/2010, 02/11/2010).  There you also see an incredibly stupid excuse to dodge the implications, with the science press regurgitating it without any critical analysis.  This stretches evolutionary paleoanthropology to the breaking point.  Now we are supposed to believe that human feet and legs evolved on the body of an ape in the trees.  The ape found it could occasionally walk on the ground just like a man, but didn’t commit to it for two million years.  What a waste of anatomy.  They could have had marathons and door-to-door salesman long before we showed up.  If you believe their story after this embarrassing revelation (that we already have known for years, 03/12/2005, 07/20/2005, 02/03/2006, 01/10/2007, 03/02/2009), we have something to sell you: an autographed copy of Gullible’s Travails, signed by the author, Movealong Swiftly.  Climb down out of that Monkey Puzzle Tree and buy yours today!  Only $13,199.99 – limited time offer!  Order now and we’ll throw in free health care for a trillion dollars, and a luxury cruise to the Isle of DeBris (return fare extra).

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Categories: Early Man, Fossils

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