Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Missing Link Found (Again? Yawn)

arroba Email

Headline: “Missing Link Revealed?”

I have seen variants of this headline at least dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times. It seems that journalists never seem to tire of trotting out the latest find as the “missing link” despite the fact that, presumably, the dozens of prior headlines were wrong. Why is that?

Correct me if I am wrong. It seems that to many researchers, these fossils were “apes” that were clearly on their way to becoming human. In fact, from the neck down the Australopithecines were already MOST of the way to being human. It’s only from the neck up that they were still mostly ape. THAT is the reason why they were considered transitions from ape to men. As Lovejoy (who lead the analysis of Ardi) said: “Even as its fossil record proliferated, however, Australopithecus continued to provide only an incomplete understanding of hominid origins. Paradoxically, in light of Ardipithecus, we can now see that Australopithecus was too derived—its locomotion too sophisticated, and its invasion of new habitats too advanced—not to almost entirely obscure earlier hominid evolutionary dynamics.” In other words, he’s saying that Australopithecines (such as Lucy) were already too far along in evolution towards becoming human to tell us much about the common ancestor of us and apes or to tell us much about how/why we began evolving the way we did. Australopithecines was too far long to tell us what was going on at that early period. Homo habilus is even more human from the neck down. If the skeletons of a chimp, Homo habilis, and Homo sapien were laid side by side on a table with the heads removed, the chimp skeleton would clearly stand out, but it would probably take an expert to spot the differences between the Homo habilis and Homo sapien skeletons. I have never seen anyone propose that Homo habilis was more adapted to life in trees than on the ground. If there are such people, it must be a very tiny group. There’s barely anyone that would say such a thing about Australopithecus anymore, let along H. habilis. Homo habilis is also more human from the neck up than Australopithecus, with a larger brain, more human face, etc. I have seen some argue that H. habilus should be moved to the Australopithecines (although not based on the argument that they are more adapted to life in trees, which is a rather rediculous assessment), and have seen others argue that Australopithecus afarensis (of which Lucy is a member) should be called Homo afarensis. Of course, the fact that there are such arguments shows how gradual the series of fossils is between “apes” and humans. If there were gaps or “missing links”, it would be easy to draw lines. THAT is what the arguments of many researchers look like to me. Anyone in this thread care to refute that ? SeekAndFind
This is not about the science. This is about the way it is reported. If journalists are prone to resorting to stereotypes, perhaps you should take it up with our resident journalist, Denyse O’Leary.
No need to, for she doesn't, unless you're stereotyping all journalists yourself. What's good for the goose.... Clive Hayden
This is not about the science. This is about the way it is reported. If journalists are prone to resorting to stereotypes, perhaps you should take it up with our resident journalist, Denyse O'Leary. Seversky
Again the find is classified by the researchers themselves as resembling homo habilis,,,, "A newly discovered skeleton reportedly resembles Homo habilis." http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/04/04/fossil-missing-link-human-evolution/?test=latestnews ,,,,which means it was an ape: The changing face of genus Homo - Wood; Collard Excerpt: the current criteria for identifying species of Homo are difficult, if not impossible, to operate using paleoanthropological evidence. We discuss alternative, verifiable, criteria, and show that when these new criteria are applied to Homo, two species, Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis, fail to meet them. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/68503570/abstract Human evolution? Excerpt: Some scientists have proposed moving this species (habilis) out of Homo and into Australopithecus (ape) due to the morphology of its skeleton being more adapted to living on trees rather than to moving on two legs like H. sapiens. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution#Genus_Homo So please tell me how an ape fossil can be used as evidence that humans came from apes unless of course you already "know" that humans came from apes and evidence doesn't really matter one way or the other? Well at least evolutionists still have this piece of conclusive evidence to fall back on: http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/tzu/lowres/tzun801l.jpg bornagain77
#9 So what did you think the headline writer meant to say? Mark Frank
Barry, are you implying that we shouldn't take much notice of what journalists write about science? Heinrich
ENV has a article on this; "Crucial Gaps" Filled by Fossil Discovery? We've Heard That Before... Excerpt: This is the same species that was reported in an AP article from 2007 which disowned Homo habilis as a human ancestor. As far back as 1999, a paper in Science explained that this species should not even be considered a member of the Homo genus. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/04/crucial_gaps_filled_by_fossil.html Take Your Stinkin' Paws Off Me You Damn Dirty Ape! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJT2vJMsYc4 bornagain77
In fairness, we should note that the headline writer put the phrase 'missing link' in quotes, suggesting that he or she recognized it as a bit of a cliché: Fossil Find May Be 'Missing Link' in Human Evolution In any case, the opening sentences of the article give an accurate sense of the significance of the find:
A fossil skeleton of a child discovered in a cave system known as the Cradle of Humankind may represent a previously unknown stage in the evolution of man, The (London) Sunday Times reported. The skeleton, which is almost complete despite being two million years old, is believed to belong to one of the hominid groups that includes humans.
Mark Frank [re your comment in 8]. Surely you understand that what you say what you say (even assuming for the moment it is true) is not what the headline writers mean to say. We are talking about headlines in the media, not what the fossil actually means. Barry Arrington
All that "missing link" means is that a fossil has been discovered which is intermediate between two known fossils ("intermediate" does not of course mean on the direct path of descent). Every time that a missing link is discovered it creates an opportunity for two more missing links (if a new fossil B is foud which is intermediate between A and C, then there is now scope for a fossil between A and B and B and C). So, of course we can expect more and more missing links which does not mean the previous discoveries were wrong. Surely you guys understand this? Mark Frank
It is interesting to note that this specimen is classified homo habilis and yet even anti-ID wiki states: Some scientists have proposed moving this species (habilis) out of Homo and into Australopithecus (ape) due to the morphology of its skeleton being more adapted to living on trees rather than to moving on two legs like H. sapiens It is interesting to see that the more we learn the more that cartoon of ape to briefcase carrying man disintegrates: "The australopithecines (Lucy) known over the last several decades from Olduvai and Sterkfontein, Kromdraai and Makapansgat, are now irrevocably removed from a place in a group any closer to humans than to African apes and certainly from any place in a direct human lineage." Charles Oxnard, former professor of anatomy at the University of Southern California Medical School, who subjected australopithecine fossils to extensive computer analysis;" “Dr. Leakey produced a biased reconstruction (of 1470/ Homo Rudolfensis) based on erroneous preconceived expectations of early human appearance that violated principles of craniofacial development,” Dr. Timothy Bromage http://www.nyu.edu/public.affairs/pdf/2007_BROMAGE_IADR_1470.pdf The Truth About Human Origins: Excerpt: "It is practically impossible to determine which "family tree" (for human evolution) one should accept. Richard Leakey (of the famed fossil hunting family from Africa) has proposed one. His late mother, Mary Leakey, proposed another. Donald Johanson, former president of the Institute of Human Origins in Berkeley, California, has proposed yet another. And as late as 2001, Meave Leakey (Richard's wife) has proposed still another.,," A 2004 book by leading evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr stated that "The earliest fossils of Homo, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus, are separated from Australopithecus (Lucy) by a large, unbridged gap. How can we explain this seeming saltation? Not having any fossils that can serve as missing links, we have to fall back on the time-honored method of historical science, the construction of a historical narrative.” Misrepresentations of the Evidence for Human Evolutionary Origins: Hominids, Homonyms, and Homo sapiens - 05/27/2009 - Creation Safaris: Excerpt: Homo erectus is particularly controversial, because it is such a broad classification. Tattersall and Schwartz find no clear connection between the Asian, European and African specimens lumped into this class. “In his 1950 review, Ernst Mayr placed all of these forms firmly within the species Homo erectus,” they explained. “Subsequently, Homo erectus became the standard-issue ‘hominid in the middle,’ expanding to include not only the fossils just mentioned, but others of the same general period....”. They discussed the arbitrariness of this classification: "Put together, all these fossils (which span almost 2 myr) make a very heterogeneous assortment indeed; and placing them all together in the same species only makes any conceivable sense in the context of the ecumenical view of Homo erectus as the middle stage of the single hypervariable hominid lineage envisioned by Mayr (on the basis of a much slenderer record). Viewed from the morphological angle, however, the practice of cramming all of this material into a single Old World-wide species is highly questionable. Indeed, the stuffing process has only been rendered possible by a sort of ratchet effect, in which fossils allocated to Homo erectus almost regardless of their morphology have subsequently been cited as proof of just how variable the species can be." By “ratchet effect,” they appear to mean something like a self-fulfilling prophecy: i.e., “Let’s put everything from this 2-million-year period into one class that we will call Homo erectus.” Someone complains, “But this fossil from Singapore is very different from the others.” The first responds, “That just shows how variable the species Homo erectus can be.” "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 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 - 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." Human Evolution? - The Compelling Genetic, Fossil Evidence & Tool Making For Adam and Eve - Dr. Fazale Rana - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4284482 The genetic evidence is also disintegrating for the evolutionists: Do Human and Chimpanzee DNA Indicate an Evolutionary Relationship? Excerpt: the authors found that only 48.6% of the whole human genome matched chimpanzee nucleotide sequences. [Only 4.8% of the human Y chromosome could be matched to chimpanzee sequences.] http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2070 Even this more recent evolution friendly article found the differences in the protein coding genes of the Y chromosome between chimps and Humans to be "surprising": Chimp and human Y chromosomes evolving faster than expected - Jan. 2010 Excerpt: "The results overturned the expectation that the chimp and human Y chromosomes would be highly similar. Instead, they differ remarkably in their structure and gene content.,,, The chimp Y, for example, has lost one third to one half of the human Y chromosome genes. http://www.physorg.com/news182605704.html The evolutionary scientists of the preceding paper offered some "evolutionary just so" stories of "dramatically sped up evolution" for why there are such significant differences in the Y chromosomes of chimps and humans, yet when the Y chromosome is looked at for its rate of change we find there is no evidence for any change at all, much less the massive changes they are required to explain: CHROMOSOME STUDY STUNS EVOLUTIONISTS Excerpt: To their great surprise, Dorit and his associates found no nucleotide differences at all in the non-recombinant part of the Y chromosomes of the 38 men. This non-variation suggests no evolution has occurred in male ancestry. http://www.reasons.org/interpreting-genesis/adam-and-eve/chromosome-study-stuns-evolutionists bornagain77
But doesn't it seem like every new skeleton that proves evolution true has some shocking evidence surprises and confounds the researchers? For example, the missing links keep turning out to be counsins not ancestors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution#Genus_Homo Collin
It's because journalists are lazy. Evolutionary biologists get frustrated by this "missing link" rubbish all the time. IMO, "missing link" should only be used when describing sausage theft. That annoys biologists too, because it's normally their sausages that are stolen. Heinrich
Tribune7 beat me to it, but DARWIN THEORY IS PROVED TRUE bevets
But you would also complain about the woefully incomplete fossil record, and its inability to support the theory. The reason the fossil record has gaps is that not every variation of every species manages to die in one of the very specific ways that leaves a fossil. This is one of those gaps being filled in - so in principle this sort of headline could many, many more times as more and more variations are captured. But I'm sure it will never be enough. Chet
I was going to write on this, but Barry beat me to it. Don't you find it a bit odd that for a theory that is supposedly as well confirmed as the theory of gravity, that the discovery of some fossil skeleton is the stuff of proclamation and headlines. It seems that every new find is greeted with "Eureka...we have found the missing link...evolution is true after all." Hmmm...haven't all the Darwinists been yelling for years that evolution is a "Fact, fact, fact!" DonaldM
New York Times: Darwin Theory Is Proved True tribune7

Leave a Reply