Arguments Against Evolution pt. 8

The previous post followed the lineage of our own species up until the australopithecines. We now turn to our Homo predecessors in this, the eight and final post in the “Arguments Against Evolution” series.

  • Homo habilis had an increased brain size (650 cc average), a more vertical face, and smaller teeth and manufactured and used simple stone tools . These simple tools are known as Oldowan technology. These features of H. habilis were related to meat consumption, meaning that if our ancestors didn’t eat meat, we wouldn’t be big-brained H. sapiens. Fats and proteins from a diet that included meat were essential in the evolution of larger brains . H. habilis the first significant and rapid increase in brain size. The specimens of H. habilis might include a larger-brained species called Homo rudolfensis, but it is uncertain whether H. rudolfensis is indeed a separate species. This species lived from about 2.4 to 1.5 million years ago. 
  • Homo ergaster is seen as the ancestor of the Asian Homo erectus and also the European Homo Heidelbergensis. H. ergaster had African origins. They were probably scavengers. These hominins had even larger brains, more complex tools (Acheulean technology), more efficient bipedalism, could use fire, and their offspring remained juvenile for a longer period. They might have been the first hominins to use a kind of primitive language.  H. ergaster proves the Out of Africa hypothesis, and therefore also the reasoning of Darwin, to be correct. The most famous specimen of H. ergaster is known as Turkana Boy, or the Nariokotome skeleton, found in Kenya. This specimen is an almost complete skeleton and shows that H. ergaster was built like modern human, but with the brain size of a 1 year old child. Even with the comparatively small skull, H. ergaster needed a human birth and prolonged infant care.

    Turkana Boy

    • Homo erectus date from about 1.8 million to 300,000 years ago and had brain capacities of 099 cc in the earlier specimens and 1,100 cc in later specimens.With H. erectus we see a refinement of tools, which imply planning and acting with purpose . As of 1999 the fossils identified as H. erectus have been recognized as coming from about 150 individuals.                
  • Homo floresiensis are perhaps the most surprising find in the Homo lineage.  Fossils which were thought to be H. erectus were discovered on Flores Island. What was peculiar was that the typically H. erectus tools were “toysized” and all the fossils were of children. More detailed investigation of the skeletons revealed that they were from adult individuals who only reached about 1m in height with 380cc brains. It is presumed that H. floresiensis are descendants of H. erectus that became isolated on Flores Island and evolved to the smaller size. These miniature people existed as recently as 18,000 years ago.

    Homo sapiens and Homo floresiensis

    • Homo Heidelbergensis were from African descent and moved through Europe, evolving into Homo neanderthalensis. They may not have been the first Homo species to enter Europe, as Acheulean stone flakes were found near the Jordan River and may belong to H. ergaster. The H. heidelbergensis that remained in Africa evolved into Homo sapiens and intermediate forms such as the Kabwe and Bodo skulls have been found.    
  • Homo neanderhtalensis were the European descendants of H. Heidelbergensis . H. neanderthalensis had brains as large as those of Homo sapiens and tools more advanced than H. ergaster. The first H. neanderthalensis specimen was found in 1856 in the Feldhofer Cave in the Neander Valley near Düsseldorf, Germany. The Neanderthal’s tools are called Mousterian technology. The Neanderhtals lived between 200,000 and 30,000 years ago. We have bones from about 500 individual Neanderthals.

    Replica skull of a Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis), with a modern human (Homo sapiens) in the background.

  • Cro-magnon fossils were discovered in 1868 the Cro-Magnon cave in France. The Cro-Magnons are completely modern in their anatomy and the term is now used to refer to any Homo sapiens that lived in Europe before people started settling and forming villages. Cro-Magnon remains are between about 35,000 and 15,000 years old. They produced cave paintings, the most famous of which are at Lascaux in France (gallery), and also produced carvings. Other forms of art produced by these people included body decorations, ceramic pottery and musical instruments. Cro-Magnon buried their dead and had distinct cultures. Cro-Magnons were at first thought to be descendants of the Neanderthals, but they are descendants of African H. sapiens.

    Neanderthal (left) and Cro-Magnon (right)

  • Homo sapiens evolved from H. heidelbergensis in Africa and then migrated to populate the globe. In Indonesia they encountered H. erectus and perhaps H. floresiensis and could have reached the continent of Australia as early as 60,000 years ago. Encounters with European H. neanderthalensis resulted in a cultural explosion. This cultural explosion is dated to about 40,000 years ago and is called the Upper Paleolithic period. It is from this period that religious artifacts are found.

Conclusion:

As a conclusion to the “Arguments Against Evolution” series (Pt.1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5, Pt. 6, Pt. 7), one can see from the arguments examined that the arguments aimed against evolution stem mostly from a misunderstanding of the science behind evolution (e.g. the missing links, the second law of thermodynamics) or the claims made by evolution (e.g. the hopeful monster theory). Some of the arguments may be conscious trickery on the part of those who seek to discredit evolution. Isaak states that “[m]uch of the strength of creationism comes not from its having good arguments but from creating so many arguments that educators cannot easily teach the answer to all of them.” This is also the problem when it comes to debates between creationism and evolution. Creationism seems to bowl the evolutionists out by sheer strength in the number of claims and arguments, which the evolutionists simply cannot adequately answer or explain in a single debate. This tactic is called Gish galloping. When steamrollered by an avalanche of misinterpretations and untruths, those on the side of evolution are often left floundering and looking like fools.

Sources:

Cotner, S & Moore, R 2011. Arguing for evolution: An encyclopedia for understanding science. Greenwood: Santa Barbara.

Dawkins, R 2009. The greatest show on earth: The evidence for evolution. London: Bantam Press.

Miller, K B 2003. Common descent, transitional forms, and the fossil record, in Miller, K B (ed.) Perspectives on an evolving creation. Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans.152-181.

Rice, S A 2007. Encyclopedia of evolution. New York: Facts on File.

Ruse, M 2006. Darwinism and its discontents. New York: Cambridge University Press.

See Also:

http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric-art.htm

http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_5.htm

http://blog.world-mysteries.com/strange-artifacts/prehistoric-cave-paintings/

http://humanorigins.si.edu/resources/intro-human-evolution

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Arguments Against Evolution pt. 7

After working like mad to finish my thesis I can finally get back to my theology and evolution blogs. In this installment we take a look at a very important branch of the evolutionary tree – ours! Allow me to introduce you to some of our hominid and hominin forefathers (and mothers). Hominid used to refer to the family Hominidae, as distinct from the family Pongidae (chimpanzees), but the term now refers to Hominidae as it stands now, including chimpanzees and bonobos in the family. Hominin is the term employed for the lineage that has already diverged from that of the chimpanzees and which leads up to modern humans.

Anti-evolutionists often ask to be shown the fossils. Richard Dawkins recounts a rather infuriating interview (pgs 198-201) which would let any sensible person want to bang their head on their desk.

  • Sahelanthropus tchadensis is the earliest known bipedal ape. Discovered in 2002 in Chad, this creature lived about 7 to 6 million years ago, which is 1 to 2 million years before the lineages of humans and chimpanzees split according to DNA studies.                                   
  • Orrorin tugenensis was discovered in 2000 in Kenya, walked upright, and lived about 6 million years ago.   
  • Ardipithecus ramidus (basic root ape) seems to be the point where the human lineage began. It was discovered in 1994 in Ethiopia and clocks in at about 4.4 million years ago.                        
  • Australopithecines (literally “southern ape”) were hominins that lived in Africa. They were bipedal, but their brains were not consistently larger than other apes. Their leg and pelvic bones attest to upright walking, but a bony ridge on the forearm, which might be vestigial, points to walking on the knuckles.They probably used tools, but much in the same way chimpanzees do today. The earliest species were A. anamensis, A. afarensis, and A. bahrelghazali from about 4 to 3 million years ago. A. garhi and A. africanus lived in the southern regions of Africa at about 3 to 2 million years ago. The Australopithecines are described as “gracile” and were small of stature, only measuring about 1m tall.Their jaws were relatively small as were their faces.
  • Australopithecus afarensis was discovered in 1974. The fossils date from 3.9 to 3.9 million years ago and had humanlike teeth (Isaak, 2007: 106). The first specimen discovered is also the most famous. The nearly complete skeleton of Lucy was helpful in shedding light on the movements of the species. A. afarensis was bipedal. Fossilized footprints of A. afarensis or a closely related species that evidence bipedalism were found in Tanzania in volcanic dust which was dated to about 3 million years ago. The “Dikika Baby” was found in 2006 in Ethiopia and from the shoulder blades it could be deduced that the species could still swing from trees. “Little Foot” was discovered in 2006 in South Africa at Sterkfontein. There are bones from about 150 individuals. 
  •  Australopithecus africanus was discovered in 1924 in a Pleistocene limestone quarry in the Transvaal region near Taung, South Africa. The most famous specimen is the first, called the Taung child. A. africanus have humanlike teeth. This species shows that the skull’s characteristics became more modern before the brain size increased as well as that human evolution began in Africa. The specimens date from about 3 to 2 million years ago and have a brain capacity of 420-500 cc.                                   
  • Kenyanthropus platyops was discovered in Kenya and is thought by some to be the ancestor of humans, rather than Australopithecus. Kenyanthropus lived about 3.5 million years ago. 
  • Paranthropus is a genus consisting of three known species called the “robust australopithecines.”
  • Paranthropus aethiopicus was probably the ancestor of both P. robustus and P. bosei. The Paranthropus lineage seems to have met a dead end. The “robust australopithecines” were most likely the descendants of the “gracile australopithecines,” after the line split into at least two branches. The other branch would lead to the Homo species. 

In the next installment we’ll look at our Homo predecessors.

Sources:

Cotner, S & Moore, R 2011. Arguing for evolution: An encyclopedia for understanding science. Greenwood: Santa Barbara.

Rice, S A 2007. Encyclopedia of evolution. New York: Facts on File.

Ruse, M 2006. Darwinism and its discontents. New York: Cambridge University Press.