May 15, 2020 | Jerry Bergman

Kabwe Skull Casts Doubt on Human Evolution


“Fossil Skull Casts Doubt over Modern Human Ancestry” —

Kabwe Skull Forces a Major Revision in Human Evolution

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

This headline above was not from a creationist-friendly publication but, to the contrary, was from a pro-evolution publication.[1] It illustrates what creationists have been saying for decades: that to many scientists, human evolution has become a so-called scientific consensus that is not to be doubted, even when the facts contradict it. The result is that scientists, the courts, academia, the media, and even many, or even most, clergy and Christian colleges are on the side of evolution. What we have on our (the anti-evolutionism) side are the facts, and this is yet another article in a scientific publication that shows the persistence of belief in evolution in spite of the facts.

Full account of the Piltdown hoax is just one of many episodes in this book.

In this case, we have the evidence of the Broken Hill (or Kabwe 1) skull, to contradict evolutionary claims. The skull is also named the Kabwe skull, because it was found in what is now Kabwe, Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia). This skull “is one of the best-preserved skulls of a fossil hominin” ever found but, in spite of this, confusion still existed about its classification![2] It was initially labeled as a type specimen of Homo rhodesiensis by Arthur Smith Woodward,[3] a leading figure in the most famous hoax in science ever, the Piltdown forgery.[4] Homo rhodesiensis is known from only three skulls, each found “at a considerable distance from each other.”[5]

The Kabwe skull is the most complete, missing only a portion of the skull base and the jaw. It is the only one containing teeth, which are badly worn and contain many dental caries, a feature of modern humans.[6] This skull has often been included in the taxon Homo heidelbergensis because only minor differences exist between it and Homo rhodesiensis.[7] This, one of the best-preserved skulls of all of so-called early man, which is obvious from the picture below, helps us to understand why most skulls, which are mostly fossil fragments that have to be reassembled, must be reclassified so often.

The Many Attempts to Date the Fossils

This skull is not only one of the best-preserved fossils of a very early human species, but was first estimated by Darwinists to be close to 700,000 to 1,000,000 years old.[8] Later, a radioisotope date of 640,000 years was obtained based on the fossil’s underlying sediments.[9] Then, based on archaeological remains, a date of 600,000 years was estimated. The newest estimated date was 500,000 years. Paleontologists openly admit that the Kabwe 1”remains have been difficult to date due to their haphazard recovery and the site being completely destroyed by quarrying.”[10] The new 2020 analysis puts the fossils’ date at about half the old date, namely at  274-to-324-thousand years old, or late Middle Pleistocene.[11]

Consider this issue, too: all the “animals found with Homo rhodesiensis are all modern… most still live in the surrounding area today.”[12] The animals include elephant shrews, porcupines, mice, rats, jackals, hyenas, zebras, and even leopards.[13] Furthermore, the description published in Nature observed “The skull is in a remarkably fresh state of preservation, the bone having merely lost its animal matter [soft tissue] and not having been in the least mineralized… similar to the skull of the Neanderthal or Mousterian race found in the caves of Belgium, France or Gibraltar.”[14] All of these facts, including the obvious wild dating guesses, leads me to believe the fossil may be only a few thousand years old, not 300 thousand – and certainly not a million years old.

The 2020 study creates very serious problems for human evolution theories, because the results mean that, in Africa at this time, lived not only modern-day wildlife species, but also “multiple contemporaneous hominin lineages” – specifically “Homo sapiens, H. heidelbergensis/H. rhodesiensis and Homo naledi, similar to those living in Eurasia, where Homo neanderthalensis, the Denisovans, Homo floresiensis, Homo luzonensis and perhaps also Homo heidelbergensis and Homo erectus, were found contemporaneously.”[15]

The main problem is that the dating of H. rhodesiensis demolishes the evolutionary sequence. The fossils, therefore, don’t show evolution, but contemporaneous variety. Kabwe-1 lies within the normal variation of Neanderthals, as is also true of modern humans. Modern humans show similar distinct variations, which can be used by forensic scientists to determine the race of possible murder victims. As the article in Nature states, “The age estimate also raises further questions about the mode of evolution of H. sapiens in Africa and whether H. heidelbergensis/H. rhodesiensis was a direct ancestor of our species.” It does more than just raise major questions!

Kabwe-1 skull (Natural History Museum, London)

History of the Find

The H. rhodesiensis skull was found in 1921, or 99 years ago, and the find was written up by Arthur Smith Woodward in the leading science magazine titled Nature.[16] In the article by Woodward, the following was stated, which also says much about paleontology: “the bones … so far as they have been identified by Dr. C. W. Andrews and Mr. E. C. Chubb …  belong to [a] species still living in Rhodesia or to others only slightly different from these. The occupation of the cave, therefore, seems to have been at no distant date—it may not even have been so remote as the Pleistocene period.”[17]

The cave where the H. rhodesiensis remains were found served both as a shelter and camping place for the people who lived in that area. A large quantity of animal bones were also discovered there, predominantly antelope, which were probably the remains of meals. Also, discovered along with the complete skull were six bone fragments, specifically parts of the face of a second individual, along with a thigh bone, upper arm bones, shin bones, part of a pelvis, and a sacrum.

Of interest is a round perforation on the skull that was possibly caused by a wooden pointed spear or, as some semi-seriously claim, a bullet. The Nature article concludes that, instead of an evolutionary lineage, what their study found was “different human lineages and/or species … co-existed across Africa… The supposed status of H. heidelbergensis/H. rhodesiensis as an ancestral species for H. sapiens must also be reconsidered in the light of recent studies.”[18]

The research also indicates that human evolution in Africa was a far more complex process than previously believed, and what were once thought as different human lineages apparently co-existed. Professor Grün noted that his research team added to the new and emerging studies that question the foundation of modern human evolution and whether Homo heidelbergensis was even a direct ancestor of our species.

A Religious Icon

The monetary and scientific value of the skull, like a religious icon, was revealed by the fact that the government of Zambia has petitioned the United Kingdom for custody of the Kabwe skull. British delegates agreed to negotiations with Zambia regarding eventual repatriation of the skull, accompanied by agreements regarding access to it by researchers, and also access to associated scans and digital data of the fossil.[19]


[1] Griffith University. 2020. Fossil skull casts doubt over modern human ancestry., April 2.

[2] Grün, Rainer, et al. (12 other co-authors). 2020. Dating the skull from Broken Hill, Zambia, and its position in human evolution. Nature 580: 372-375, April 1.

[3] Woodward, Arthur Smith. 1921. A new cave man from Rhodesia, South Africa. Nature 108:371–372, p. 372, November 17.

[4] Wood, Bernard. 2015. Wiley-Blackwell Student Dictionary of Human Evolution. New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 192.

[5] Sawyer, G.J. and V. Deak. 2007. The Last Human: The Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p. 194.

[6] Sawyer, G.J. and V. Deak, 2007, p 194.

[7] Grün, R., et al., 2020.

[8] Schiller, Jon. 2010. Human Evolution: Neanderthals & Homosapiens. A Documentary by Jon Schiller, Ph.D., CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, p. 3.

[9] Sawyer, G.J. and V. Deak, 2007, p. 195.

[10] Griffith University, 2020.

[11] Grün, et al., 2020, p. 375.

[12] Sawyer, G.J. and V. Deak, 2007, p. 195.

[13] Sawyer, G.J. and V. Deak, 2007, p. 195.

[14] Woodward, A.S., 1921, p. 371.

[15] Grün, R., et al., 2020, p. 372.

[16] Woodward, A.S., 1921.

[17] Woodward, A.S., 1921,p. 371. Italics added.

[18] Grün, Rainer, et al., 2020,p. 375.

[19] Balter, Michael. 2019. “Zambia’s Most Famous Skulls Might Finally Be Headed Home.” The Atlantic, February 18.

Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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