When are paleontologists going to stop digging up chimpanzee bones and calling them your ancestors?
It's yet another fossil discovery, one of at least five in the past year, that The Associated Press says "may redefine evolution." It's "Flat-faced man," (Kenyananthropus platyops), found in sandstone west of Lake Turkana in Kenya by Meave Leakey of the Leakey Foundation [Nature Volume 410, page 440, 2001]. News sources have headlined the announcement worldwide even though no other scientists have had an opportunity to examine the 30 fossilized bone fragments from just one skull to confirm Leakey's claim that it's a new genus and species of pre-humans (hominids), and even though the dating of the fossil is questionable.
When you read the news reports carefully you see how eager scientists and reporters are to turn speculation into scientific fact. The Boston Globe headline reads: "New fossil adds an early branch to the human family tree." But in the Associated Press story, Meave Leakey, who discovered Flat-faced man, is quoted as saying the chances are 50-50 this species could have been an early ancestor of human beings. "I don't have any scientific grounds to say that this is directly anecestral. It certainly is a branch of the human family tree," says Leakey in the Los Angeles Times. That means, in her mind, it is assumed to be a pre-human, and under the assumption that humans evolved from apes, it could be an ancestor of Homo sapiens, or, like one of the many new rival hominids, it may have lived millions of years ago but became extinct and died out without an ancestral link to modern humans.
Readers have to scan news reports for the assumptions and qualifiers. A commentary in Nature Magazine by Daniel Lieberman of the Department of Paleontology, the George Washington University, says the new fossil is "presumed to have evolved…" [Nature, March 22, 2001] The Washington Post report says: "If it turns out that the newly discovered species did eventually evolve into modern humans…." That's a big "if" that will likely take years to determine.
The Los Angeles Times admits: "Only about 30 fragments of skull and jaw were found, but no long bones or ribs. So much about the creature is still guesswork." The Boston Globe says: "It is difficult to establish that flat-faced man was even a new species, because there are simply too few fossils available for comparison." A commentary in Nature Magazine admitted that of the 30 fossil fragments found, only 2 have been actually assigned to flat-faced man. So what are readers to believe? According to the data, Flat-faced man is/isn't an ancestor of modern man?
The dating of Flat-face man is also in question
Daniel E. Lieberman, Department of Anthropology, George Washington University, says "These fossils were all found in deposits reliably dated to between 3.5 million and 3.2 million years ago." [Nature, March 22, 2001] Paleontologists continue to date fossils by the layer of earth they are found in, and the layer of the earth by the fossils typically found there, which is circular reasoning. Scientists maintain sedimentary layers were laid down at a constant rate that can be measured and that fossils found at the bottom of the heap are the oldest and most primitive and are millions of years old, and precede man (called uniformitarianism). Again, this is an assumption.
New dating techniques are now being employed rather than just relying on the rock strata. Recently two geologists, from the University of California at Berkeley, studied Java man (Homo erectus). The original Java Man was dug up in 1893 by Eugene Dubois, a Dutchman. The UC Berkeley researchers, using the newer dating techniques, estimated Java Man was no more than 50,000 years old, not the 1.8 million years previously claimed! [New York Times, January 10, 2001]
To totally confound modern science, miners have unearthed a man-made metal sphere from the Ottosdal Mines in South Africa, whose rock strata is estimated to be 2.8 billion years old. David Childress, author of Technology of the Gods [Adventures Unlimited Press, 2000], says: "Given the distinct possibility that uniformitarian geology and dating are completey erroneous, objects that would initially appear to have a startingly ancient date, say hundreds of thousands or millions of years, might actually be of much more recent manufacture. While it seems most of them are authentic, they are probably closer to tens of thousands of years old, rather than millions of years old."
Scientists have repeatedly documented tools and human fossils in the geological record, even into the Pre-Cambrian age, long before scientists indicate man appeared. [Forbidden Archaeology, The Hidden History of the Human Race, Torchlight Publications, 1994]
Reporters Don't Question Science
Paleontologists, who appear to be seeking headlines, undergo little or no scrutiny from science journalists throughout the world, who themselves appear eager for a story. For example, paleontologists continue to employ archaic fossil dating methods. When French researchers recently reported they had found human remains of 5 individuals that date back 6 million years, the widely heralded "Millennium man" (Orrorin tugenensis), they admitted they had not performed any dating on the fossils, but indicated the fossils had been obtained from "rock strata …..previously proven to show an age of 6 million years." [Reuters, December 4, 2000] More assumptions and circular reasoning that go unchallenged by reporters.
"There is only one species of humans today, but there were two or more throughout prehistory until Neanderthals became extinct about 35,000 years ago," says Guy Gugliotta, science reporter for the Washington Post. But of course, Gugliotta forgot to tell readers these are still unproven theories. Gugliotta says Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), previously thought to be the oldest pre-human ancestor, was "a bipedal forager about 3 feet tall, lived between 3.5 million and 2.8 million years ago and had anantomical characteristics about halfway between those of apes and humans." This is conjecture. Lucy was made up from just a small pile of bone fragments. Recently the National Geographic commissioned 4 artists to sketch what they believed 2-million year old Homo habilis looked like from castings of seven bone fragments they were given to examine. Each artist produced radically different renditions of Homo habilis, all without body hair. [National Geographic, March 2000] Yet there is no way of knowing if Homo habilis was hairy or not. Drawings of Neanderthal man, who supposedly existed only hundreds of thousands of years ago, are shown in biology books with body hair. So were man's ancestors hairy like apes or not?
Paleontology's frauds and blunders
Look at the blunders and outright fraud that have been reported in the just the past year in fossil studies.
April 7, 2000: The National Geographic Society admitted that a fossil hailed as evidence that birds descended from dinosaurs was a composite of two different animals.
April 21, 2000: A computer scan of a dinosaur fossil, which researchers had previosuly claimed had a heart and therefore was warm-blooded, revealed the heart to be nothing more than a clump of minerals that misled researchers. [Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2000]
November 9, 2000: Tohoku Paleolithic Institute in Japan fired archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura after he was caught planting stone artifacts, a practice that had been going on for two decades.
November 26, 2000: Canadian scientists indicate that an earlier report claiming a reptile fossil had wings was erroneous. The "feathers" were found to be scales.
December 8, 2000: 200-million year old fossil on display at the National Museum in Wales was found to be a forgery.
Paleontology doesn't have a very good track record to build upon. Recall the following blunders and frauds that were published in biology textbooks for decades.
Piltdown man: a combination of a modern human skull and orang-utan jaw, revealed as a fraud in 1953, 40 years after its discovery. Nebraska man: based upon one tooth found in 1921, which actually belonged to a pig-like animal. Drawings of a hairy animal were erroneously published. Java man: Admittedly its teeth were probably from a orang-utan and its long-leg bone was more recent than its skull. Lucy: French researchers no longer consider this specimen, found in 1974, to be a direct human ancestor. [Associated Press, February 7, 2001 Neanderthal man: once shown in biology textbooks as the missing link and estimated to have lived 100,000-200,000 years ago, it was thought to be an extinct species that was not a descendant of modern man. But the discovery of a fossil with combined features of Homo sapiens and Neanderthal, coupled with discoveries of bone flutes, spears and other tools, appears to indicate Neanderthals were human contemporaries of modern man. [Scientific American, November 8, 1999]
Some scientists have, for some time now, believed that man came from a common ancestor. Using DNA mutation rates to date fossils, researchers believe that the first humans (not hominids), "Adam and Eve," lived 100,000-200,000 years ago. But recently researchers recognized they had miscalculated the rate of mitochondrial DNA mutation in fossils of early humans. Instead of having existed over 100,000 years ago, the new data indicates "Eve" may have lived only 6000 years ago, a scenario that amazingly correlates with the Biblical dating of creation. [Science, Volume 279, page 28, 1998]
Even though researchers use the veil of science for their beliefs, they often are nothing more than that. So the scientists have their "belief systems," and those who don't buy into Darwin's evolutionary scheme have theirs.
March 24, 2001
Bill Sardi writes from Diamond Bar, California.