April 10, 2018 | Jerry Bergman

March of Man Disbanded

New Study Forces Discarding Cherished Theory

by Dr Jerry Bergman

For decades, the story of human evolution was effectively told in a set of drawings called the March of Man, the Parade of Human Evolution, or simply the Progression. It showed evolution from some ape animal, to a stooped over ape-like man, to modern man. These pictures are seen in articles, on book covers, and even on many postage stamps. This icon is the most common picture of human evolution in the public’s mind. The story varies, but usually begins with a modern looking ape, then showing Dryopithecus, Australopithecus, then Homo erectus, Homo sapiens, Neanderthal man, and lastly, modern humans: Homo sapiens sapiens [Man the wise, the wise].

Portion of the Time-Life Illustration Now Debunked. From Early Man. Time-Life Books By F. Clark Howell. 1970. pp. 41-45.

First shown in the popular Time-Life book titled Early Man,[1] it was then repeated in the National Geographic Magazine.[2] Although still widely pictured in the mass media, paleoanthropologists have long abandoned this picture. They have also unsuccessfully struggled to replace this highly inaccurate picture of human evolution with more accurate illustrations of what they now believe. It looks nothing like the Progression.[3]

The National Geographic illustration, 1985.

This progressive icon was only a modification of the previous examples showing only busts of claimed evolutionary ancestors. For example, the American Museum of Natural History had a prominent display of busts for decades featuring Java man, Piltdown man, Neanderthal Man and Cro-Magnon man.[4] Java and Piltdown man are now known to be frauds,[5] and Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon men are both different ethnic groups of humans. Thus, this icon of evolution is an embarrassment today, as is also the progression concept. Consequently, new theories were developed.

The late Jack T. Chick, a Christian illustrator, had some fun with the iconic progression, pointing out flaws in the interpretation.

The Current Theory

The two currently dominant theories of human evolution reject the Progression theory. The theory that replaced the Progression are the Out-of-Africa Theory and the Multiregional Theory. The Out-of-Africa Theory, also known as the “recent African origin of modern humans” is, or was until now, the dominant model of the geographic origin and early migration of humans.[6] The new model proposes a single origin of Homo sapiens, precluding parallel evolution of anatomically similar modern traits.

The other theory, the multiregional hypothesis, also teaches Homo erectus evolved through independent multiple origins in Africa and Eurasia with continuous gene flow between continental populations.[7] A compromised version of the Out-of-Africa hypothesis accepts the African origin of most human populations but concedes the possibility of minor local contributions to the human gene pool.[8] The fact is, “Hypotheses concerning the origins of modern humans have been intensively debated” for decades.[9]

Ruth Moore, "Evolution" book, Life Young Readers Library 1968

Even books for young people have reproduced this icon of evolution.

The problem was that neither fossil “excavations nor lab work has been able to reconstruct …  the earliest chapters of the Homo sapiens’ story.”[10] Professor Tarlach adds as “debate between the two proponents of the two models rages on, there is one big problem. Researchers keep finding fossils and genomic evidence that don’t fit the evidence” for their evolution of human theory.[11] The 2018 review of the evidence in Science acknowledged the evidence has now reached a tipping point. The authors felt it was time to develop another new model of how humans evolved and spread throughout the world.[12]

The new model proposes modern humans evolved in Africa far earlier, actually close to 300,000 years ago, and left Africa in multiple waves. They ended up traveling to Australia and East Asia, and on the way interbred with Neanderthals in Europe and Denisovans in Asia.

This new theory was proposed in the face of other controversies which include “most molecular biologists [who] insist on the replacement of archaic populations by modern humans dispersed from Africa, while most paleoanthropologists and archaeologists propose an enhanced ‘Continuity with Hybridization’ model.”[13] Discoveries include a partial Homo naledi skeleton unearthed in South Africa which is almost as complete as Lucy’s famous partial skeleton, which is only about 20 percent complete.[14] The putative evidence for human evolution consists of  thousands of fossil fragments, requiring a large amount of speculation and guesswork.

The Progression icon has spawned many imitations. This is from The Teaching Company.

What Was the Reason for the Drastic Revision?

As more and more human and primate fossil fragments were discovered, it became clear a simple progression did not exist as once almost universally believed. Several alleged fossil men ancestors of modern man were shown to live contemporaneously with their supposed ancestor, and some even interbred.[15] What was found was a great deal of physical and cultural variety in both fossil types. For example, Neanderthal Man and Cro-Magnon Man are now known to be only different varieties of men, or people groups.

Another discovery was that “modern human morphological characteristics appeared quite early, as documented in fossils from the late Middle Pleistocene.”[16] Furthermore, fossils with “fully modern human morphology” have been found that are believed by evolutionists to date very early in their evolutionary history theory. New DNA research has come to the same conclusion. Thus, instead of a progression, we have a great deal of variety in both humans and the great apes, as is also true with dogs, cats and most all other varieties of life.

The new theory already has problems, namely it has been cobbled together not always very successfully, to fit a wide variety of new discoveries and facts. A major problem is that modern humans, in evolutionary terms, lived contemporaneously with the claimed human evolutionary links. The evidence seems to support the view that anatomist Dr. David Menton has documented, namely all of the claimed links connecting humans to lower primates are either fully human or fully ape.[17]

Actually, this problem has existed for some time. One leading textbook shows four very different human evolution trees, none of them the Progression model, and all of them showing the branching model picturing a variety of claimed evolution ancestors, most that lived roughly around the same time.[18] It includes very different trees by several of the leading paleoanthropologists including Don Johanson, Tim White, Richard Leakey, Bernard Wood, and Colin Groves.

From People of the Past. The Epic Story of Human Origins. San Francisco, CA. Fog City Press. Edited by Göran Burenhult. 2003 pp. 50-51


This recent “revolution” in paleoanthropology illustrates the fact that much disagreement exists in this field for many reasons: chiefly, that a major basis for making conclusions comes from ambiguous bone fragments. These are usually difficult to date or even to determine to whom they belong. Bone fragments found in the same general area are often assumed to belong to the same individual. This is a questionable assumption. Human evolution is based on speculation unconstrained by fossil evidence. Only so much can be learned from bones anyway, which constitute merely 15 percent of the entire body mass.

The icon has spawned a cottage industry of cartoon versions.

Life-long evolutionist A. N. Wilson, in a study of Darwin, ended up rejecting human evolution based largely on the fact that so much disagreement exists among the leading experts even about the core ideas of the theory. Furthermore, the history of the field documents the fact that conflicts and major disagreements have been rife in the field since the beginning.[19] The case for human evolution is, and has always been, wishful thinking based on an evolutionary worldview, which is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. The iconic fossil Progression of man is only one example.

Piltdown Man is not the only early-man hoax Dr Bergman covers in this new book.

[1] F. Clark Howell Editor. 1970. Early Man.  New York: Time-Life Books. pp. 41-45.

[2] National Geographic November, 1985. pp. 574-577.

[3] The problem with this line-up is fully documented in Jerry Bergman. 2917. Evolution’s Blunders, Frauds and Forgeries. Creation Book Publishers. Power Springs, GA pp. 207-218.

[4] Extinct Races of Ape-Like Man. Scientific American. May, 1923. pp. 302-303, 352, 357.

[5] Bergman, 2017. pp. 188: and 237-260.

[6] Xing Gaol Fei Peng QiaoMei; FuFeng Li, 2017. New progress in understanding the origins of modern humans in China. Science China Earth Sciences. 60(12):2160-2170. December. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11430-017-9144-1

[7] Gemma Tarlach. 2018. Our New Past. Discover. April 39(3):68-69.

[8] Jin, L. & Su, B. 2000. Natives or immigrants: modern human origin in east Asia. Nature Reviews Genetics 1, 127.

[9] Xing et al.

Another new book by Sanford and Rupe examines all the latest fossil hominids.

[10] Tarach, 2018, p. 68.

[11] Tarach, p. 68.

[12] Xing et al.

[13] Bruce Bower, 2017.  The story of humans’ origins got a revision in 2017. Homo sapiens’ emergence pushed back to around 300,000 years ago. Science News.  192(11):24, December 23, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/human-evolution-top-science-stories-2017-yir.

[14] Bruce Bower. 2017. Ancient boy’s DNA pushes back date of earliest humans. Science News. Vol. 192, October 28, 2017, p. 16.

[15] Xing, et al., 2018, pp. 2160-2161.

[16] Xing, et al., pp. 2161.

[17] David Menton, Ph.D. 2014 Three ways to make an Ape Man. Answers in Genesis.

[18] Göran Burenhult. People of the Past. San Francisco, CA: Fog City Press. pp. 50-51.

[19] Virginia Morell. 1995. Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind’s Beginnings. New York: Simon and Schuster

Dr Jerry Bergman, professor, author and speaker, is a frequent contributor to Creation-Evolution Headlines. He is currently a staff scientist at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). See his Author Profile for his previous articles and more information.

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