Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Of course human ancestry is an enduring puzzle!


Because it matters.

Commending David Tyler for a recent article on the subject:

Extensive studies of fossil skeletons of Australopithecus sediba provide fascinating details of the anatomy of this hominin species, but do not convincingly indicate its position on the evolutionary route to modern humans.

One should ask first, why is human ancestry important? Who cares much about cats’ ancestry?

Cats might be really annoyed (if they were capable) that they may share an ancestor with, like, bow wow wow. But so?

The whole point is that they are not capable of caring. When will we finally start studying intelligence seriously? Recognizing its capabilities and limits?

Human ancestry only matters because we are not really just animals.

Something is wrong with a society that does not just recognize this fact.

Why do the people who say we are destroying the planet also proclaim (almost always) that we are just animals?

See also: The fall of Australopithecus sediba

Seems Berger, the man behind the sediba fossil, is quite the glory hound:
Australopithecus sediba: The Hype-Cycle Starts Again – Casey Luskin – September 2011 Excerpt: So leading paleoanthropologists like Bernard Wood, Donald Johanson, Fred Spoor, Ian Tattersal, and Tim White aren’t convinced that Au. sediba was a human ancestor, but the media believes it’s perfectly acceptable to promote the opposite view to the public.,,, A final problem with the claims being made about Au. sediba is related the paleoanthropologist who found the fossils himself. Science reports that he formerly had a career as a TV news producer and has a tendency to overstate his findings:,,, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/09/australopithecus_sediba_the_hy050831.html The Fall of Australopithecus sediba: Controversy and the Quest for Glory Cloud Claims of Human Ancestry - Casey Luskin - June 12, 2013 http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/06/the_fall_of_aus073211.html
Moreover, despite these type of publicity seeking claims by Berger and others, the missing link is still missing:
Hominid Hype and the Election Cycle - Casey Luskin - September 2011 Excerpt: Ignoring fraudulent fossils like Piltdown man, the last 50 years have seen a slew of so-called human ancestors which initially produced hype, and were later disproven. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/09/hominid_hype_and_the_election_050801.html When we consider the remote past, before the origin of the actual species Homo sapiens, we are faced with a fragmentary and disconnected fossil record. Despite the excited and optimistic claims that have been made by some paleontologists, no fossil hominid species can be established as our direct ancestor. Richard Lewontin - "Human Diversity", pg.163 (Scientific American Library, 1995) - Harvard Zoologist Evolution of the Genus Homo - Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences - Tattersall, Schwartz, May 2009 Excerpt: "Definition of the genus Homo is almost as fraught as the definition of Homo sapiens. We look at the evidence for “early Homo,” finding little morphological basis for extending our genus to any of the 2.5–1.6-myr-old fossil forms assigned to “early Homo” or Homo habilis/rudolfensis." http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.earth.031208.100202
This following talk is interesting. Phillip Johnson directly addresses why these many unsupported 'glory seeking' claims keep popping up in news stories from time to time:
Phillip Johnson - What I saw about the fossil record again,, was that Gould and Eldridge were experts in the area where the animal fossil record is most complete. That is marine invertebrates.,, And the reason for this is that when,, a bird, or a human, or an ape, or a wolf, or whatever, dies,, normally it does not get fossilized. It decays in the open, or is eaten by scavengers. Things get fossilized when they get covered over quickly with sediments so that they are protected from this natural destructive process. So if you want to be a fossil, the way to go about it is to live in the shallow seas, where you get covered over by sediments when you die,,. Most of the animal fossils are of that kind and it is in that area where the fossil record is most complete. That there is a consistent pattern.,, I mean there is evolution in the sense of variation, just like the peppered moth example. Things do vary, but they vary within the type. The new types appear suddenly, fully formed, without an evolutionary history and then they stay fundamentally stable with (cyclical) variation after their sudden appearance, and stasis (according) to the empirical observations made by Gould and Eldridge. Well now you see, I was aware of a number of examples of where evolutionary intermediates were cited. This was brought up as soon as people began to make the connection and question the (Darwinian) profession about their theory in light of the controversy. But the examples of claimed evolutionary transitionals, oddly enough, come from the area of the fossil record where fossilization is rarest. Where it is least likely to happen. Archaeopteryx would be the prime example. Its a bird so we expect it to rarely be fossilized. Yet it has been exhibit number one in the Darwinian case. There's nothing else around it. Unlike those marine invertebrates. So you can tell a story of progressive evolution that might not work out at all if you saw through the whole body of things around it. Likewise with the ape-men. That is another area where fossilization is very rare. And where the bones of humans and apes are rather similar anyway. So (someone) can find a variant ape bone, its pretty easy to give it a story about how it is turning into a human being. If you tell the story well enough, and successfully, you get your picture on the cover of National Geographic and you become rich and famous. This could effect your judgement. One of the things that amused me is that there are so many fossil candidates for human ancestry, and so very, very, few that are candidates for ancestors of the great apes. There should be just as many (if not more) but why not? Well any economist can give you the answer to that. Human ancestors have a great American value so they are produced at a much greater rate. Now these were also grounds to be suspicious with what was going on. That there was obviously so much subjectivity. ,, The Standard explanation for why the fossil record is not more supportive of Darwinian expectations than it is, if you find that out at all (that the fossil record does not fit Darwinian expectation), is that there are so few fossils, (thus) most things aren't fossilized. That is why (we are told by Darwinists) that the fossil record has so many gaps. Not that the theory has many gaps but that the fossil record has so many gaps. Yet that is odd if the problem is the greatest where the fossil record is most complete and if the confirming examples are found where fossils are rarest. that doesn't sound like it could be the explanation. - Phillip Johnson - April 2012 - audio/video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJDlBvbPSMA&feature=player_detailpage#t=903s
Of note:
"But what is the basis for the human evolution thesis put forward by evolutionists? It is the existence of plenty of fossils on which evolutionists are able to build imaginary interpretations. Throughout history, more than 6,000 species of ape have lived, and most of them have become extinct. Today, only 120 species live on the earth. These 6,000 or so species of ape, most of which are extinct, constitute a rich resource for the evolutionists to build imaginary interpretations with." http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/origin_of_man.html

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