When Does Paleoanthropology Become Archaeology?
Was there ever a time when humans were “pre-human”? Recent finds are overturning assumptions about human ancestors.
Antebellum: Rewrite the story of ape and human brain evolution, advises Science Daily: the “unexpected” speedy expansion of the primate cerebellum was “up to six times faster than anticipated throughout the evolution of apes, including humans.” So do we classify this story under mammalogy, anthropology, or physiology? “In humans, the cerebellum contains about 70 billion neurons — four times more than in the neocortex,” Robert Barton of Durham University says. “Nobody really knows what all these neurons are for, but they must be doing something important.” That would seem to prompt an investigation based on intelligent design. Prior to this, the neocortex was considered “the crowning achievement of evolution and the biological substrate of human mental prowess.” One thing is clear: humans have archaeology; apes do not. Barton remarked in Live Science‘s article that his findings “turn the story of brain evolution upside down.” New Scientist got downright Kiplingesque with its panchreston, “Cerebellum’s growth spurt turned monkeys into humans.”
Oldest human genome sequenced: A bone of a modern human from western Siberia, said to date from 45,000 years ago, still had DNA in it. The sequence, reported in Nature, messes up the old human evolution story, because even way out east, this individual had Neanderthal DNA mixed in his genome. The interbreeding, scientists believe, must have happened even earlier, as much as 60,000 years ago or more. This also means that individuals like this one were fully capable of migrating across continents, raising questions about why they didn’t start civilization for so long. See Ewen Callaway’s news article on the story in Nature.
Ten years of hobbit skull-scratching: In 2004, remains of diminutive humans were found in a cave on Flores Island, Indonesia. They were named (after some dispute) Homo floresiensis, but popularly the “hobbits” because of their short stature. Despite a decade of study, anthropologists are as confused by the skull, jaw, and various bones as they were then: they have both primitive and advanced traits, but are carbon-dated at 20,000 years old. Are they examples of Homo erectus, or are they modern humans with a skull defect? How did they get to this island across the sea? Ewen Callaway in Nature tells the illustrated story with the major players, and also posted an interview with four key anthropologists. “Small remains still pose big problems,” Chris Stringer writes in the same issue of Nature.
The toolmaker: “Ancient Stone Toolmaking Didn’t Just Spread Out of Africa with Humans,” writes Charles Q. Choi in Live Science. “An advanced way of crafting stone tools, once thought to have only originated in Africa, may have been invented elsewhere independently, according to a new study.” This technology dates in the evolutionary scheme to some 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. But if humans “invented” toolmaking, it didn’t evolve. That makes it archaeology, not paleoanthropology. Nature says “evolved independently among different groups of early humans in Eurasia and Africa,” but classifies the article under Archaeology. The findings were published in Science Magazine. See also summary on PhysOrg.
It’s a long way from Australopithecus to Austria: “Modern humans may have migrated into Austria 43,500 years ago” reads a headline on PhysOrg. Logically, that implies they might not have, too, or that when they did, it was not 43,500 years ago but much sooner. Look for the surprise phrase, “than previously thought.” Here it is: based on some stone tools found in Austria, “The date of the artifacts represents the oldest well-documented occurrence of behaviorally modern humans in Europe and suggests contemporaneity with Neanderthals in other parts of Europe, showing that behaviorally modern humans and Neanderthals shared this region longer than previously thought.” Question: did modern humans and Neanderthals have archaeology, or did Neanderthals have only paleoanthropology? If the former, did the Neanderthals get it by intelligent design?
Long way from Austria to the Andes: A campsite of early Americans high in the Andes puts humans in South America a thousand years earlier than previously thought—12,800 years ago in the evolutionary timeline, reported Science Magazine. They didn’t even have time to evolve high-altitude survival, but another question might be: what took them so long? If humans made it to Siberia from Africa, and spread all across Europe and the far East, even traveling by boat, why didn’t they show up in the New World sooner?
What’s the point? The genome of an African man believed to have lived 2,300 years ago was sequenced, but then stories of what he did for a living and where he had migrated from twisted the genetic facts into a tale about evolution. “What can DNA from the skeleton of a man who lived 2,330 years ago in the southernmost tip of Africa tell us about ourselves as humans?” Science Daily teases, to end with this quote from an evolutionist: “In this study, I believe we may have found an individual from a lineage that broke off early in modern human evolution and remained geographically isolated.” Are they implying this African was inferior to the Europeans? Any human living as recently as the times of the great empires was not evolving into anything.
Now this is archaeology: A 3,300 year old complex was discovered at Tel Burna in Israel, PhysOrg reported, complete with walls, utensils and objects that might have been associated with Baal worship often mentioned in the Bible. In another PhysOrg entry, artifacts from an Iron Age chariot were found. Objects included a curry comb probably used to groom the horses. The science of archaeology is the study of remains created by intelligent agents for a purpose: i.e., it is a science of intelligent design.
How did paleoanthropology become archaeology? When did it become history? What gave humans that extra spark that turned their brains into minds? Evolutionists have no idea. They just throw out absurd possibilities, like “Cerebellum’s growth spurt turned monkeys into humans”—(that has to be one of the stupidest headlines in recent memory). What, did the cerebellum choose to have a growth spurt? Is the human an accident of some monkey mutation? Come on, you editors over there, use your brains and stop the nonsense!
Evolutionary paleoanthropology is so mixed up, you can’t trust much of anything they say. Every new story includes the clause, “these findings show that such-and-such was more something-or-other than previously thought.” In other words, every previous “truth” of paleoanthropology was wrong. What they believe today is vastly different from what was taught as fact just a few years ago (just one recent example: cave art story from 10/14/14). Paleoanthropologists love the darkness of their storytelling imaginations rather than the light of logic and the world’s best written record of how man came to be.
The absence of artifacts does not prove that humans who left their skeletal remains were incapable of making them. The presence of simple stone tools does not prove that the creators were mentally incapable of doing better. There can be other explanations, like isolation from technology of other groups, harsh conditions allowing nothing more than subsistence living, poverty, disease, or personal choices for simple living, like some ethic groups live today—living out their lives by hunting and gathering, leaving no art or literature. All other evidence shows that humans have always been thinking, reasoning, sentient beings with minds capable of great things, given the right circumstances. What is outrageously absurd is to believe that upright, migrating, fire-using humans with large brains spent hundreds of thousands of years sitting around in caves doing nothing.