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Among biggest paleontology issues of 2018: Is Toumaï an ape or a human ancestor?

Seymouria/Sanjay Acharya (CC BY-SA 4.0)

It’s getting testy, says a vertebrate paleontologist:

In January Roberto Macchiarelli, a professor of human paleontology, accused his colleague Michel Brunet of totally misrepresenting an important piece of evidence in the story of human evolution. The evidence in question is a femur – a thigh bone found in northern Chad in 2001. Macchiarelli believes that the femur belonged to Toumaï (Sahelanthropus tchadensis), a species which his opponent argues is the earliest known example of a human ancestor, dating back around 7 million years.

But Macchiarelli insists the femur belonged to a quadrupedal ape, not a bipedal hominin. Julian Benoit, “Five reasons why 2018 was a big year for palaeontology” at THe Conversation

If Toumaï is a human ancestor, then human beings originated in western, not eastern Africa, the thinking goes. Some of the artwork might have to change. 😉 The debate and the digging go on.

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See also: From The Conversation: Questioning human origins in Africa is a good thing. So what about the claims for Europe?

 Researchers: Leakey’s iconic homo habilis did not use cultural transmission, too primitive

Does the herpes virus show that humans migrated out of Africa? Okay, but FYI, some researchers believe that the human race originated in Asia and got to Africa on naturally occurring rafts of vegetation.


What we do and don’t know about human evolution

Why is this story illustrated with a picture of a 200myo amphibian fossil? timothya
A few notes: "It is very clear that the general public has been deceived regarding the credibility and significance of the reputed hominin fossils."
Contested Bones: Is There Any Solid Fossil Evidence for Ape-to-Man Evolution? - Dr. John Sanford and Chris Rupe Excerpt: We have spent four years carefully examining the scientific literature on this subject. We have discovered that within this field (paleoanthropology), virtually all the famous hominin types have either been discredited or are still being hotly contested. Within this field, not one of the hominin types have been definitively established as being in the lineage from ape to man. This includes the famous fossils that have been nicknamed Lucy, Ardi, Sediba, Habilis, Naledi, Hobbit, Erectus, and Neaderthal. Well-respected people in the field openly admit that their field is in a state of disarray. It is very clear that the general public has been deceived regarding the credibility and significance of the reputed hominin fossils. We will show that the actual fossil evidence is actually most consistent with the following three points. 1) The hominin bones reveal only two basic types; ape bones (Ardi and Lucy), and human bones (Naledi, Hobbit, Erectus, and Neaderthal). 2) The ape bones and the human bones have been repeatedly found together in the same strata – therefore both lived at the same basic timeframe (the humans were apparently hunting and eating the apes). 3) Because the hominin bones were often found in mixed bone beds (with bones of many animal species in the same site), numerous hominin types represent chimeras (mixtures) of ape and human bones (i.e., Sediba, Habilis). We will also present evidence that the anomalous hominin bones that are of the human (Homo) type most likely represent isolated human populations that experienced severe inbreeding and subsequent genetic degeneration. This best explains why these Homo bones display aberrant morphologies, reduced body size, and reduced brain volume. We conclude that the hominin bones do not reveal a continuous upward progression from ape to man, but rather reveal a clear separation between the human type and the ape type. The best evidence for any type of intermediate “ape-men” derived from bones collected from mixed bone beds (containing bones of both apes and men), which led to the assembly of chimeric skeletons. Therefore, the hominin fossils do not prove human evolution at all.,,, We suggest that the field of paleoanthropology has been seriously distorted by a very strong ideological agenda and by very ambitious personalities. https://ses.edu/contested-bones-is-there-any-solid-fossil-evidence-for-ape-to-man-evolution/
Here is a video playlist by Dr. Paul Giem reviewing, chapter by chapter, John Sanford’s book “Contested Bones”.
“Contested Bones” review by Paul Giem – video playlist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6ZOKj-YaHA&list=PLHDSWJBW3DNU_twNBjopIqyFOwo_bTkXm
Of related note, a detailed examination of fossil teeth, (which I consider our best piece of fossil evidence), supports Dr. Sanford's conclusion of a persistent 'gap' between apes and humans
No Known Hominin Is Common Ancestor of Neanderthals and Modern Humans, Study Suggests - Oct. 21, 2013 Excerpt: The article, "No known hominin species matches the expected dental morphology of the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans," relies on fossils of approximately 1,200 molars and premolars from 13 species or types of hominins -- humans and human relatives and ancestors. Fossils from the well-known Atapuerca sites have a crucial role in this research, accounting for more than 15 percent of the complete studied fossil collection.,,, They conclude with high statistical confidence that none of the hominins usually proposed as a common ancestor, such as Homo heidelbergensis, H. erectus and H. antecessor, is a satisfactory match. "None of the species that have been previously suggested as the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans has a dental morphology that is fully compatible with the expected morphology of this ancestor," Gómez-Robles said. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021153202.htm

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