July 11, 2018 | Jerry Bergman

350,000-Year-Old Skull Looks Shockingly Like Modern Human

 A 350,000-year-old skull that looks shockingly like a modern human

by Dr Jerry Bergman

Textbooks and science books written for laypersons often imply a certainty about human evolution that does not exist. If one reads widely, one soon finds that the precision implied in accounts of evolution vanishes, especially when it comes to human evolution. Some references admit this fact, but claim that evolution is true because it has been a fruitful theory that has inspired much research and exploration.

One cannot deny that Darwinian evolution has been a fruitful theory, but this fact alone does not make it a true theory. Oxford professor Thomas Dixon succinctly dismisses this commonly-made claim by evolutionists. After stating that “Ptolemaic astronomy … was hugely successful for many centuries,” he added that “there is no reason to suppose that today’s successful theories [like Darwinism] are true. Both true and untrue theories can produce accurate predictions.”[1]

In a breath of fresh air, one scientific report writes, “When and where did our species emerge? Anthropologists have struggled with that question for decades, and scattered clues had suggested the answer lay somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa about 200,000 years ago.”[2]

The latest new evidence of human evolution, a review in Nature noted (as is common in reports of new fossil discoveries), demands rewriting of the textbooks.[3] The recently discovered fossil remains “suggest the first Homo sapiens showed up more than” 100,000 to 150,000 years “earlier than we thought in a place many experts didn’t suspect.[4] The report on the find was a cover story published in none other than the most prestigious scientific journal in the world, Nature. The first issue of Nature magazine was published in November of 1869 and the journal has been an aggressive supporter for Darwinism ever since. It was ranked the world’s most cited scientific journal by the Citation Reports, a website that keeps track of citation numbers.

The fact that our lineage as modern humans has been pushed back a hundred to a hundred and fifty thousand years with one discovery says several things. First, it shows how little evidence exists about human evolution, and, two, how tenuous the dates are. As the Nature report admitted, the “place and time of emergence of H. sapiens remain obscure because the fossil record is scarce and the chronological age of many key specimens remains uncertain.[5]

The report the paleontologists published in Nature[6] on the fossil skull of a Homo sapiens discovered in Morocco note it is a more elongated skull shape than modern humans. It appears, assuming that the ones uncovered are typical of this human variation, that they are simply another people group. The report admits that the brain case falls somewhere between what one might expect between ancient and modern humans.

A review of the new fossil findings, as published in The Independent, opined, “The fossils could represent the earliest known examples of H. sapiens ever found (if confirmed by further research), and they serve as evidence that members of our species lived beyond sub-Saharan Africa.”[7]

A History of the Find

The details of the discovery of the Morocco find make one very suspect of its validity. The first discovery in the area occurred in 1961. While plowing into a dense limestone wall, a crew of miners struck a soft patch that gave way to a mound of cinnamon-colored dirt. In the dirt was a nearly-complete skull. The miners, thinking the skull was from a modern human, turned it over to their field doctor. Soon after, the researchers uncovered more remains, including several jaw bone fragments and an arm fragment. The scientists then pegged the fossils at around 40,000 years old, a few thousand years before the Neanderthals were believed to have vanished.

Roughly 40 years later, anthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin and his team excavated the half-dozen layers of soil beneath the area where the skull and arm bones were discovered in 1961. The team found the remains of what looked like five individuals and flint blades which appeared to have been burned by nearby cooking fires. The evidence found at this cite indicated that these bone fragments were from modern humans.

To date the bone fragments, the researchers used a dating technique that measures how much radiation had built up in the flint since it was heated, a technique called thermoluminescence.[8] Thermoluminescence dating measures luminescence exhibited by crystalline materials previously absorbed ionizing radiation energy that alters their crystal structure which retains the distortion. Heating the material causes the crystal structure to relax, assuming the previous conformation (shape) and causing the stored energy to be re-emitted as light which can be measured.

Using this technique, Hublin and his team concluded that the ancient bones belonged to people who lived roughly 300,000 to 350,000 years ago. This assumes the ionization of the flint occurred at the same time when the people were cooking their meal. And it also assumes that the fire made by the people caused the ionization that the thermoluminescence technique measured. One major problem is contamination of ionizing radiation from such sources as radioactive elements in the soil or from cosmic rays.

The Skulls Demolished the Previous Human Fossil Record

When the team examined the skulls, instead of finding the robust features existing on faces of existing claimed human ancestors, including Homo erectus or Homo heidelbergensis, the face displayed a striking resemblance to modern humans. For example, the Homo erectus skulls have a single protruding brow ridge extending across the nose bridge. In contrast, the individuals they uncovered in Morocco had smaller separated brow ridges very much like modern humans. In addition, rather than a large face and flattened skull as common on Homo heidelbergensis, these people had small faces and rounder skulls also like modern humans.[9] As the lead researcher stated “The face of these people …  had a skull that is more elongated than most of us, but I’m not sure these people would stand out from a crowd today.[10]

Implications of the Find

The major problem was, assuming their findings are valid, the discovery indicates modem humans lived close to the same time as our evolutionary ancestors. You cannot have descended from an earlier ancestor who lived close to the same time that you lived. Your early ancestors must have lived long before the time that you lived. This is why it was correctly stated that this find will force rewriting the textbooks! What was assumed to be our early human ancestor could not have been our ancestor. This is the same problem that the eminent paleontologist Louis Leakey discovered several decades ago that forced a redrawing the human family tree. It may have to be drawn yet again!

Hublin added that he is convinced the Moroccan specimens “represent the very root of our species.” This means that all of the Homo sapiens ever found — including those uncovered far beyond Africa — trace their ancestral linkages back to the land that is today’s Morocco” and not sub-Saharan Africa as the current dominant theory teaches. This requires another major textbook revision, because the details of the evolution of humans, including loss of body fur/hair, bipedal locomotion, evolution of the brain, language, and all the rest is based on the sub-Saharan African evolution model. Thus, Darwinists will have to greatly revise many human evolution details.

Associate professor of archaeology at the University of Southampton, Sonia Zakrzewski, concluded Hublin’s discovery was so important that it will encourage other archaeologists to drastically alter the way they think about human origins. She wrote, “It really sets the world alight in terms of the possibilities for understanding the evolution of Homo sapiens…. It certainly means that we need to rethink our models” of human evolution.[11] Indeed, evolutionists will have to do some major rethinking.

Update July 11, 2018: It appears the out of Asia idea is catching on, meaning the origin of humans occurred in Asia and not Africa as once widely believed.  The cover of New Scientist included the following words in bold letters “Out of Asia. It’s time to rethink the map of human evolution.” (July 7-13, 2018). The article covers many of the early human fossil finds, including the Peking Man fossils discovered in 1923 which disappeared during the war. All that remains are casts which show them to be broad nosed men. Then came the 1992 find in China that looked like a hybrid mix of H. erectus and H. sapiens, which is not a problem if one concluded that H. erectus were H. sapiens, i. e., were the same species as many creationists concluded. Next came the 2009 find, also in China, classified as H. sapiens partly based on its very human like chin. This find was dated at least 50,000 years before humans were supposed to have arrive on earth.

The New Scientist article then added the 2017 Moroccan fossils reported above going back 300,000 to 350,000 Darwin years, adding 100,000 Darwin years to the previous estimated date of the first humans. The problem is “our ancestors, in all their forms, were a promiscuous bunch. It seems as if every new genetic study reveals yet more interbreeding between groups that were once thought to be distinct species.” (Kate Douglas. 2018. p. 30).  This is what many creationists have been saying for some time. All, or most of, these fossil fragments are simply different varieties of humans exactly as we see today, except they exhibited more variety than modern humans. It looks like even more rewriting of the textbooks is called for. At the least, these new finds may reduce the dogmatism rampant in science.

[1] Thomas Dixon. 2008. Science and Religion. Oxford University Press. p. 34.

[2]  Brodwin, Erin. 2017. 300, 000-year-old skulls that look shockingly like ours could rewrite the Human Evolution Origin Story. The Independent, 10 November, 2017.

[3] Hublin Ewen Callaway Oldest Homo sapiens fossil claim rewrites our species’ history. Nature 546; p. 212 June 7, 2017

[4] Brodwin, 2017.

[5] Hublin, Jean-Jacques et al. 2017. Nature 546, 289.

[6] Hublin, J. et al. 2017. Nature 546, 289–292.

[7] Brodwin, 2017.

[8] Richter, D. et al., 2017. The Age of the Hominin Fossil from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, and the Origins of the Middle Stone Age, Nature. 246: 293-296.

[9] Brodwin, 2017.

[10] Brodwin, 2017.

[11] Quoted in Brodwin, 2017.

Author Jerry Bergman, PhD

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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