Biology Darwinism Evolution Science

Paleontologist Richard Leakey Says We Are Descended From Apes

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You know for many years I’ve been taking care to avoid saying men evolved from apes because the pedant dominated science establishment is quick to point out that we and apes descend from a common ancestor and anyone who thinks we evolved from apes clearly doesn’t understand evolution. So now we have arguably the most recognized living name in paleontology, Richard Leakey, blurting out the proverbial “I’m so stupid I don’t know what common ancestry means”. What are we to make of that? I’m sure our good pedant friends in the science establishment, through Panda’s Thumb or some member blog, will let us know upon reading this.

HT to Larry at I’m From Missouri.

20 Replies to “Paleontologist Richard Leakey Says We Are Descended From Apes

  1. 1
    Smidlee says:

    Some say we and apes descend from a common ancestor, some say we are descend from apes while others will claim we are still apes. Just like everything else when it comes to TOE it covers and predicts just about everything and anything.

  2. 2
    tribune7 says:

    “Whether the bishop likes it or not, Turkana Boy is a distant relation of his,” Leakey, who founded the museum’s prehistory department, told The Associated Press. “The bishop is descended from the apes and these fossils tell how he evolved.”(emphasis added)

    LOL. Good one.

  3. 3
    JGuy says:

    Richard Leakey, at one time, said he felt paleoanthropology was more of an art than a science.

  4. 4
    Joseph says:

    Whenever I used to get into this type of discussion I would always ask:

    Well was this “common ancestor” more ape-like (or chimp-like dependoing on which split & semantics) or more human-like? IOW if we saw one of that population alive today which population would it most resemble? And then ask what do you think we would call such an organism- how would we classify it today based on what you just told me?

    Also there isn’t anything to say a population has to diverge. A “newer” form could just replace the older form- unless nature prefers the older form.

  5. 5

    Richard learned from the mistakes of his father not to question the establishment.

    If Richard were to find the elusive Cambrian rabbit fossil, then he (unlike his father in his time) would toe the establishment line and say that obviously the geological layer is not Cambrian because a rabbit was found in it. Hypothetical trilobites found in the same layer a few miles away would obviously be in a Cambrian layer, because trilobites were in it. Just like the establishment says.

  6. 6
    bFast says:

    Why do these discussion always end up sounding like IDers really are creationists in disguise. I am an ID evolutionist, I actually believe that our lineage traces back at least to the precambrian explosion.

    Now the “we are NOT descended from apes, we are descended from a COMMON ANCESTOR” argument is just obfuscation, an attempt to declare that the IDer is an ignoramous. While I am of the mind that there is evidence, such as the HAR1F gene and Haldane’s dilemma, that we are the product of agency as we descend from the common ancestor, I am not ready to validate the “common design” hypothesis. Issues of common mutations between us and chimps in DNA that seems to be drifting tends to argue against this thesis. Therefore, I, an IDer agrees – we are descended from a common ancestor. So, we still didn’t get here without agency — either agency with incredible foresight which placed the plan into the DNA from the beginning of life or agency along the way. Possibly both.

  7. 7
    Jehu says:

    bFast,

    Until you deny any intelligent agency in evolution, you will never get to sit at the table with the cool kids in the lunch room of science. As Dawkins said, an evolution that requires any input from God is no kind of evolution at all.

    Once you upon the door to an intelligent creative agency, anything is possible.

  8. 8
    bFast says:

    Jehu, your comments are unquestionably correct. My frustration with this thread is that the concept of common ancestry is being mocked. There is a place somewhere between “chance + necessity did it by itself” and “God caused man to pop into existance as a separate creation.” The latter is the creationist position, but is not supposed to be the ID position — at least not the predominant ID position.

  9. 9
    great_ape says:

    Just to chime in my 2 cents. I think it’s fine to claim we’re descended from apes. What is not OK is to claim “we are descendant from chimpanzees.” A chimpanzee is a modern extant organism that has, in many senses, evolved just as much as we humans have. “Ape” is a more generic taxonomic term that could reasonably be applied to the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans. Just a matter of semantics IMHO.

  10. 10
    tribune7 says:

    bfast –My frustration with this thread is that the concept of common ancestry is being mocked.

    It’s not common ancestry being mocked but that certain type of Darwinist who make a big point of insisting that those who say “man descended from apes” are scientific illiterates.

    I guess it should be noted too that ID does not contradict or refute 6-day Creationism just as it doesn’t contradict or refute theistic evolution (or space aliens dunnit for that matter.)

  11. 11
    Joseph says:

    Great_Ape:
    Just to chime in my 2 cents. I think it’s fine to claim we’re descended from apes. What is not OK is to claim “we are descendant from chimpanzees.” A chimpanzee is a modern extant organism that has, in many senses, evolved just as much as we humans have. “Ape” is a more generic taxonomic term that could reasonably be applied to the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans. Just a matter of semantics IMHO.

    But the semantics are irrelevant because the alleged common ancestor to chimps and humans could have been entirely chimp-like.

    I have read that the “chimp-line” has evolved less than the “human-line”. That would suggest that the ancestor was chimp-like. And if that population were still around would most likely be classified as such- a chimp.

    But the bottom line is until someone- ANYONE- can explain the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans it is an un-scientific premise, ie untestable speculation based on an untestable assumption.

    IOW I don’t care what people accept. I care what they can demonstrate scientifically. And right now we don’t have any clue as to whether or not ANY mechanism can account for the observed differences.

    People may not like that but that is the reality.

  12. 12
    great_ape says:

    But the semantics are irrelevant because the alleged common ancestor to chimps and humans could have been entirely chimp-like.” =Joseph

    Even if it looked much more like a chimp, we still wouldn’t call it a chimp.

    “But the bottom line is until someone- ANYONE- can explain the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans it is an un-scientific premise, ie untestable speculation based on an untestable assumption.” –Joseph

    Just curious, do you have a button on your keyboard that prints this?

  13. 13
    jerry says:

    Great_ape,

    On one of the other threads someone pointed to a new article by Jeffrey Schwartz, in which he says

    “The history of organ life is undemonstrable; we cannot prove a whole lot in evolutionary biology, and our findings will always be hypothesis.”

    He says more and the link is

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_.....020807.php

    Do you agree with this assessment of life changes over time? It seems a pretty harsh but accurate assessment of evolutionary biology. Schwartz is not ID friendly but neither is he Darwin friendly.

  14. 14
    DaveScot says:

    great_ape

    Phenotypically speaking, how do we know it wasn’t exactly like a modern chimp and the human lineage split off from it? Or for that matter how do we know it wasn’t exactly like a modern human and chimps split off from it? One must keep in mind that some species remain alive and unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. Evolution happens, except when it doesn’t. I only avoid saying what Leakey said (man descended from apes) because I’ve been conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to avoid saying it. As far as I know it might be perfectly accurate.

  15. 15
    great_ape says:

    “Do you agree with this assessment of life changes over time? It seems a pretty harsh but accurate assessment of evolutionary biology. Schwartz is not ID friendly but neither is he Darwin friendly.” –Jerry

    Jerry, I think he is correct in stating that there are many things concerning the true history of organic life that will remain forever in the realm of hypothesis.
    This is a frustrating but undeniable reality. While there are some nuggets of factual truth that can be extracted here and there, much I fear is forever lost to time, and I, for one, enjoy the satisfaction of concrete answers. Is that to say no one should pursue these questions? I don’t think so. We are still far from gleaning all the knowledge we can from that murky organic history, and who knows what will prove relevant or open entire new realms of investigation?

    As far as the other stuff in the article you referenced, I think it’s pretty poor science writing. People ranging from Coyne and Orr to Gould (among several others) have challenged the notion of continuous evolution as historically depicted by Darwin and, later, Fisher. I can’t tell from the way the article is written whether these guys have some legitimately novel/interesting ideas about noncontinuous evolution or if they’re just repackaging old arguments.

    “One must keep in mind that some species remain alive and unchanged for hundreds of millions of years.”–DS

    True. It is possible that chimpanzees are in evolutionary stasis and that humans have done all the evolving, morphologically speaking, since the split. Molecularly speaking–using gorilla and orangs as reference points– that hasn’t been the case, at least for a subset of genetic features. Both human and chimp lineages show independent molecular evolution. From what I recall, though, the chimpanzee fossil record is significantly more lacking than that of humans (which is by no means stellar) so I’m not certain if there’s any solid evidence that chimps have changed much, morphologically speaking, in the relevant time period. So your point is a valid one, and, in retrospect, so was Joseph’s. In some scenarios, “evolved from chimps” could be a legitimate description. I still think it’s generally more misleading to say “evolved from ” b/c it invokes an incorrect idea about evolution more often than not. In the majority of cases, morphologically speaking–and in all cases at the molecular level–the true common ancestor is no longer observable.

  16. 16
    great_ape says:

    oops. accidentally invoked some sort of tag in my post above. That should have read, “I still think it’s generally more misleading to say “evolved from species extant species X”…”

  17. 17
    great_ape says:

    Jerry,

    I found the link to the full schwartz article in the other thread. I’ve downloaded it, and I’ll have to give it a fair reading when I have a moment.

  18. 18
    DaveScot says:

    great_ape

    Both human and chimp lineages show independent molecular evolution.

    No difference in phenotype can be predicted based on genotype differences. See ultraconserved phenotype.

    In the majority of cases, morphologically speaking–and in all cases at the molecular level–the true common ancestor is no longer observable.

    999 times out of 1000! A species is a terrible thing to waste but the vast majority go belly up after an average of 10 million years without spawning any new species. Moreover, the fossil record shows that those species undergo no substantial phenotype change during their tenure (Gould’s “trade secret of paleontology”). However, in this case, the split between men and chimps is presumed to have happened less than 5 million years ago so the common ancestor has a real good chance of still being alive and likely very little changed in phenotype.

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    Dave,

    If the common ancestor is still alive, then according to the front loading hypothesis, shouldn’t the basis for the other species spawned by it still be in their genome?

    That is one of the things that has bothered me about the front loading hypothesis. If at some point in time, something triggered a dramatically new species where did it come from. If it came from another species and this species had the information in its genome all along, then it should be in other members of the species and this spawning should have happened numerous times. If any are still around, there should be the possibility of finding this in their genome or even that they could still spawn new species at the right time.

  20. 20
    Patrick says:

    From what I recall, though, the chimpanzee fossil record is significantly more lacking than that of humans

    That’s quite an understatement…see here:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.....teeth.html

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