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Paleontologist: Nothing seems to be happening like they said in human evolution documentaries

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New Scientist offers this item by Colin Barras:

The origins of our species might need a rethink. An analysis of an ancient skull from China suggests it is eerily similar to the earliest known fossils of our species –found in Morocco, some 10,000 kilometres to the west. The skull hints that modern humans aren’t solely descended from African ancestors, as is generally thought. (paywall)

Paleontologist Gunter Bechly (the guy Wikipedia disappeared) responds at Evolution News & Views on what they leave out:

Sometimes predictions are not only fulfilled but over-fulfilled. Writing here recently at Evolution News (Bechly 2017a), I listed seven major discoveries in paleoanthropology that have made 2017 an annus horribilis for the established scientific consensus on human evolution. I ended, however, with the remark that “2017 is still not over. Maybe further surprises are ahead.” I was right – more surprises were indeed just over the horizon. A month later, alleged hominin teeth were reported from the Miocene of Germany that are older than the oldest African hominins and thus contradict the well-known “Out of Africa” scenario (Bechly 2017b).

Only a few days after that, other paleontologists vehemently disputed the new findings, doubting that one of the teeth belongs to a primate at all (Greshko 2017, Hecht 2017). This, of course, was without having seen the actual fossils. Getting rid of such problematic finds would be very convenient, so doubts remain on either side of the story.

Meanwhile, paleoanthropologists could barely catch their breath, as further published research casts further doubt on the conventional wisdom about human origins. Lo and behold, as New Scientist announces, “Ancient skull from China may rewrite the origins of our species” (Barras 2017). What, again?! Come on, the calls for rewriting our understanding of human evolution are coming now not just annually (Qiu 2016) but on a monthly basis. This is getting ridiculous.

“Ridiculous”? But is that even a category any more? Isn’t the whole point of naturalism these days to entrench itself beyond evidence and reason?

See also: Is social media killing Wikipedia? (Bechly)

Wikipedians diminish another high achiever sympathetic to ID. Yes, there is sometimes useful information in Wikipedia. But one can say that of the supermarket tabloids as well. It’s a question of how likely that is, relative to stuff we can’t evaluate or should avoid, averaged against the value of one’s time sorting it out.


The Science Fictions series at your fingertips: Human evolution

I think the 'mot juste' for these naturalists, post- modernists et al, might be the term, 'fabulists', which has very propitious overtones for the satirical register, in which they and their literally 'fanciful' assertions should be addressed. Axel

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