is most closely related to the living African anthropoid apes.”
The extent to which anthropologists today exercise faith, holding to be true and firmly established what in fact is only hopefully believed, is borne out by several of the following quotations, all of
1. Howell F. Clark, “The Hominization Process” in Human Evolution: Readings in Physical Anthropology, edited by N. Korn and F. Thompson, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1967, p.85.
While everyone agrees that man’s closest living relatives are to be found in the four man-like apes, gorilla, chimpanzee, orangutan, and gibbon, there is no such agreement about the precise structure of his ancestral pedigree. The evidence that he had a perfectly natural and normal one . . . is overwhelming in magnitude and cogency. But exactly what the individual steps were, or how they came about, is still to be learned. There are nearly as many theories on the point as there are serious students of the problem. All of them at present, however, lack that kind of clear and simple proof which brings the sort of universal acceptance that is accorded to the law of gravitation, for example.
Only on one point, and that one a little vague, can there be said to be general agreement. It is that, on the weight of evidence, it is probable that at some remote period in the past for which no clear paleontological record has yet been uncovered, man and the other primates branched off from what had theretofore been a common ancestral stem.
In this quotation the phrase “a perfectly natural and normal pedigree” means, of course, an evolutionary one. Pearl assures us that the evidence for this is overwhelming in magnitude and cogency, but in the next breath he speaks only of possibilities and adds that even for these there is no clear paleontological evidence. Many anthropologists today, twenty years after the above was written, would argue that the paleontological evidence is now at hand in the form of a wide range of catarrhine anthropoidea loosely catalogued together as pithecines. These creatures include such types as Dryopithecus, Ramapithecus, Kenyapithecus, and of course the more popularly known Australopithecines. But a study of the literature in which these fossils are described indicates first of all that there is considerable disagreement as to their precise status and relationship with one another, and secondly, that there is considerable debate whether they really stand in the line leading to Homo sapiens, though people like Robinson hopefully try to slide them across in the family tree so that they at least fall under the heading of hominoidea from which man is supposed to have evolved. At the present moment it appears to me that there has not been enough time yet to achieve a clear picture, and even if evolution were true it still seems unlikely that Homo sapiens arrived via a pithecine route.
The trouble is that the Australopithecines had very small brains, a mean cranial capacity of 575 CC. (3) compared with the normal
2. Pearl, Raymond, Man the Animal, Principia Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1946, p.3.
3. Clark; Wilfred LeGros, “Bones of Contention,” Huxley Memorial Lecture, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol.88, no.2, 1958, p.136-138.
for modern man of 1450 cc. and yet appear to have been tool users. Since by definition man is a cultured animal and tools are an essential part of his cultural activity, these primitive apes have been by some credited with culture and for this reason elevated to manhood, though at a very low level, of course. But there are many who hold that a creature cannot be said to be a “cultured” animal merely because it uses tools. Birds use tools for example, but this can hardly be considered as cultural activity. (4) There is no unequivocal evidence, that I am aware of, that the Australopithecines deliberately manufactured tools. There is evidence of what looks like manufactured tools, but it is highly debatable whether they were actually the work of the Australopithecines themselves. It has been argued that Australopithecines were hunted by early man and that these tools were left by the hunters. W. L. Strauss Jr., (5) in a note appearing in Science entitled “Australopithecines Contemporaneous with Man?” said of these:
Some of these artifacts are unquestionably worked, and all but one are composed of material foreign to the site and the immediate vicinity ï¿½ an indication that they represent a true lithic culture. The stratigraphy seems to make it clear that the artifacts are of the same age as the red-brown breccia, and not intrusions. The industry is not of the most primitive character. . . .
J. T. Robinson concludes that the advanced character of this stone industry makes its attribution to the Australopithecines dubious. . . . He believes that the most reasonable hypothesis at the present time is to attribute the industry to a “true man” that invaded the area before the time that this particular red-brown breccia was formed.
In the second place, it used to be held that cranial capacity and intelligence were closely related. This is seriously questioned today although there is general agreement that a human being cannot be normal with a cranial capacity below about 800 cc., the so-called “cerebral Rubicon” (6) If there is no relationship between these
4. Tool Using: see Kenneth P. Oakley, “Skill as a Human Possession” in A History of Technology, edited by Charles Singer, E. J. Holmyard and K. R. Hall, Oxford University Press, 1954, vol.1, pp.1-37 for a discussion of animal tool-users. Also Mickey Chiang, “Use of Tools by Wild Macaque Monkeys in Singapore,” Nature, vol.214, 1967, p.1258, 9. Also K. R. L. Hall, “Tool-Using Performances as Indicators of Behavioural Adaptability” in Human Evolution, Readings in Physical Anthropology, edited by C. Singer, E.J. Holmyard, K.R Hall, Holt, Rinhehart & Winston, New York, 1967, pp.173-210; especially p.195 in “Comments” for a remark by R. Cihak: “The author states that not tool-using but tool-making signalizes the critical stage in the transition from ape to human; but it ought to be pointed out that tool-making as ‘shaping an object for an imaginary future eventuality,’ is the real boundary between ape and man.” [his emphasis]
5. Strauss, W. L., Jr., “Australopithecines Contemporaneous with Man?” Science, vol.126, 1957, p.1238.
6. Weidenreich, Franz, “The Human Brain in the Light of Its Phylogenetic Development,” Scientific Monthly, vol.67, Aug., 1948, p.103-109. “Cerebral Rubicon”: P. V. Tobias, “The Old Olduvi Bed I Hominine with Specific Reference to Its Cranial Capacity,” Nature, 4 Apr., 1964, p.3.
two indices, then the very small Australopithecine brain might still qualify as “human.” But there is certainly no general agreement on the matter. In any case, modern man with his far larger brain is represented by fossils which were contemporary with the latest in the Australopithecine line, so it still seems unlikely that Homo sapiens arrived via this route.
Leaky, writing in 1966 with reference to Homo habilis, a supposed maker of tools, for a number of reasons rejects any such lineal series as Australopithecus africanus ï¿½ Homo habilis ï¿½ Homo erectus (the latter being essentially man as we now know him). . . . (7) “It seems to me,” he said, “more likely that Homo habilis and Homo erectus as well as some of the Australopithecines, were all evolving along their own distinct lines by Lower Pleistocene times.” (8) And again, “I submit that morphologically it is almost impossible to regard H. habilis as representing a stage between Australopithecus africanus and Homo erectus.” He added:
I have never been able to accept the view that Australopithecus represented a direct ancestral stage leading to H. erectus, and I disagree even more strongly with the present suggestion of placing H. habilis between them. . . It is possible that H. habilis may prove to be the direct ancestor of H. sapiens but this can be no more than a theory at present. . . .
All that can be said at present is that there was a time at Olduvai when H. habilis, Australopithecus (Zinjanthropus) boisei and what seems to be a primitive ancestor of H. erectus were broadly contemporary and developing along distinct and separate lines [my emphasis].
The debate continues, and though “no one” questions man’s evolutionary origin, the conclusive links are still missing.
The problem is that although there are a substantial number of fossil candidates which can be manipulated into the proper kind of sequence, the chain seems to lead rather to modern apes or to extinction than to man. For certain periods of geological history there are promising successions of fossil forms which look as though they ought to lead to man, but they don’t. Recently, Elwyn L. Simons observed: (9)
7. Homo sapiens and Homo erectus are at least contemporary and may quite probably have been one species according to the latest studies made of the Talgai Skull by Anatomy Professor N. W. G. MacIntosh of Sydney University, Australia, (Science News, vol.93, Apr. 20, 1968, p.381).
8. Leakey, L. S. B., “Homo habilis, Homo erectus and THE AUSTRALOPITHICINES”, Nature, vol.209, 1956, p.1280, 1281.
9. Simons, Elwyn L. “The Early Relatives of Man,” Scientific American, July, 1964, p.50. Simons’ recent discovery in the Fayum of Aegyptopithecus reported in his article, “The Earliest Apes” (Scientific American, Dec. 1967, pp.28-38) and which he describes as “the skull of a monkey equipped with the teeth of an ape,” does not shed light on the nature of the missing link between ape and man — only between the monkey and the ape.
Within the past fifteen years a number of significant new finds have been made. . . . The early primates are now represented by many complete or nearly complete skulls, some nearly complete skeletons, a number of limb bones, and even the bones of hands and feet. In age these specimens extend across almost the entire Cenozoic era, from its beginning in Paleocene epoch some sixty-three million years ago up to the Pliocene which ended roughly two million years ago. . . . But they do not lie in the exact line of man’s ancestry.
When the significance of the data itself is a subject of so much debate, it is clear that a great deal depends upon imaginative thinking, each authority being persuaded that he is merely reading the evidence. But the disagreement which exists between authorities demonstrates clearly that the evidence can be “merely read” in several different ways. For this reason, Melville Herskovits (10) observed that “no branch of anthropology requires more of inference for the weighing of imponderables, in short, of the exercise of scientific imagination, than prehistory.”
Many years ago, Wilson D. Wallis (11) pointed out that there is a kind of law in the matter of anthropological thinking about fossil remains which goes something like this: the less information we have by reason of the scarcity and antiquity of the remains, the more sweeping our generalizations can be about them. If you find the bones of a man who has died recently, you have to be rather careful what you say about him because somebody might be able to check up on your conclusions. The further back you go, the more confidently you can discuss such reconstructions because there is less possibility of anyone being able to challenge you. Consequently, when only a few fossil remains of early man were known, very broad generalizations could be made about them and all kinds of genealogical trees were drafted with aplomb. A few wiser anthropologists today decry the temptation to draft genealogical trees which, as I. Manton said, are more like “bundles of twigs” rather than trees, in any case. (12) And when it comes to the reconstruction of a fossil find into a “flesh-and-blood” head and face, the degree of divergence can be even more extraordinary as is shown, for example, in those concocted to represent Zinjanthropus for the Sunday Times (London), the Illustrated London News, and for Dr. Kenneth Oakley by Maurice Wilson, respectively. (13) The reconstruction of man’s evolutionary history is still much more of an art than a science. I have redrawn these three reconstructions from the originals (see Fig.1 and 2)
10. Herskovits, Melville, Man and His Works, Knopf, New York., 1950, p.97.
11. Wallis, Wilson D., “Pre-Suppositions in Anthropological Interpretations,” American Anthropologist, July-Sept., vol.50, 1948, p.560.
12. Manton, I., “Problems of Cytology and Evolution in the Pteridophyta,” Cambridge University Press, 1950, quoted by Irving W. Knoblock, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, vol.5, 3 Sept., 1953, p.14.
13. Sunday Times of April 5, 1964; and Illustrated London News and Sketch, Jan. 1, 1960: see also “The Fallacy of Anthropological Reconstructions,” by the author, Part V in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 in The Doorway Papers Series.
The principle that the less the data the more freedom there is in interpreting it is widely recognized. In 1967 Takeuchi, Uyeda and Kanamori, in speaking about the Theory of Continental Drift, point out that “it often happens in science that while data are scarce, interpretation seems easy, but as the number of data grows, consistent argument grows more and more difficult.” (14) Hallam L. Movius wrote very similarly in 1953 with reference to Paleolithic cultures and the presently existing data with which to reconstruct them. We now have so much more information than previously that “we can hardly compose them into anything even remotely approaching the ordered general scheme conceived by the earlier workers.” (15) I predict that when we have enough evidence we shall find that the Biblical view of man’s early history will not merely prove to be precisely correct but will seem self-evidently so to those who have that accumulated knowledge. In fact, they will wonder why the truth was not more obvious to those who preceded them. It is surprising how often a few additional facts act as a catalyst that seems to jog everything suddenly into place until one wonders how the truth could have been overlooked for so long.
Moreover, as has been recognized for many years and emphasized very recently by J. T. Robinson, (16) habits of life, climate, and diet can tremendously influence the anatomical features of the skull, indeed to such an extent that two series of fossil forms which may in fact be a single species are by some authorities put into different genera. I have in mind Australopithecus and Paranthropus. How can one take seriously family trees in which the lines of connection are drawn solely on the basis of similarity or dissimilarity in appearance when these similarities or dissimilarities could be nothing more than evidence of a difference in diet? Such cultural or environmental factors cannot only cause two members of a single species to diverge sufficiently to be put into two different genera, but two different genera can for the same reason converge until they have the appearance
14. Takeuchi, H., S. Uyeda, H. Kanamori, Debate about the Earth, Approoch to Geophysics through Analysis of Continental Drift, translated by Keiko Kanamori, Freeman, Cooper & Co., San Francisco, 1967, p.180.
15. Movius, Hallam, “Old World Prehistory: Paleolithic,” in Anthropology Today, edited by A. L. Kroeber, University Chicago Press, 1953, p.163.
16. Robinson, J. T., “The Origins and Adaptive Radiation of the Australopithecines,” in Human Evolution: Readings in Physical Anthropology, edited by N. Korn and F. Thompson, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1967, pp.277, 279, and 294.
of belonging to the same species. There are some extraordinary examples of convergence. (17)
There is another factor which may very well have confused the issue, because it is possible that, for reasons worth considering briefly, early man may have tended towards the attainment of a certain “apishness” in his appearance because of the great age to which he survived. The Bible states categorically that men lived for centuries before the Flood, and even after it. We have specific records in Scripture of only a few people living for centuries after the Flood (Genesis 11:11ï¿½22), but it can scarcely be questioned that these individuals were merely singled out because they were important for other reasons. That many men besides them survived for centuries is hardly to be questioned, though the life span of man declined rather rapidly as generations succeeded one another after the Flood.
Now one of the “findings” of evolutionists is that certain animals may for obscure reasons experience the persistence of a youthful form into adult life. This is referred to technically as neoteny. The process leads to an adult who, although strictly adult chronologically, is nevertheless “immature” in form. Such individuals are said to be paedomorphic. As an illustration, man is said to be paedomorphic, for the following reasons and in the following respect: Assuming that he is derived from some ape-like ancestor who was covered with hair, it would be expected that he himself would likewise be covered with hair. But the hairiness of the adult ape is considerably greater than that of the newborn ape. If the comparative hairlessness of the newborn ape were to have persisted for some reason into the adult stage so that the full grown creature was as comparatively free of hair as its young is apt to be, then the adult would be termed paedomorphic, i.e., patterned (in this respect) like a child of its species. Since man is comparatively hairless over the general body surface he is believed to be paedomorphic, i.e., a hairy creature who didn’t quite produce the hairiness that was expected of him on the basis of his ancestry. He has remained child-like, in this respect.
Sir Gavin de Beer is perhaps the most suitable authority to whom to refer the reader on this subject. (18) Neoteny refers to a condition
17. Convergence: Leo S. Berg, Nomogenesis: Or Evolution Determined by Law, translated from Russian by J.N. Rostovtov, Constable, Edinburgh, 1926; David Lack, Evolutionary Theory and Christian Belief, Methuen, London, 1957, p.65; Evan Shute, Flaws in the Theory of Evolution, Temside Press, London (Can.), 1961 pp.138ff.; and also Sir Alister Hardy, The Living Stream, Collins, London, 1965, especially chapter on Convergence, pp.138-146.
18. de Beer, Sir Gavin, Embryos and Ancestors, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1951, pp.52-68 and pp.88-100.
which is described as being due to “a relative retardation in the rate of the development of the body as compared with the reproductive glands,” so that the body does not run through so many stages in the descendant as the ancestor did. Strictly speaking, paedomorphosis refers to a situation where “the larva becomes precociously sexually mature, whereas neoteny refers to a situation where the adult animal retains larval characters.” “The production of phylogenetic change by the introduction into the adult descendant of characters which were youthful in the ancestor” by means of neoteny is termed paedomorphosis. Thus the comparative hairlessness of man as an adult is considered to be a case of a hairy ancestral ape being replaced by a hairl
ess descendant who is held to have retained to maturity the comparative hairlessness of the ancestral infant.
The assumption is made, further, that if man lived for a long enough time he would finally in fact achieve a fully adult form. The trouble is he dies too soon. In whatever way we may explain the fact that man’s hairiness increases with age, it is a fact. If therefore man were to live for centuries it is conceivable that the developmental processes which he shares to some extent with other living creatures of a similar kind to himself might lead to a measure of convergence, not because of any relationship but simply through great age. If man lived to be hundreds of years old, and if the conditions of his life led to his being forced to surrender some of the mollifying influences of community life, so that he lived and died as a hermit or an isolated family, it may very well be that his remains, by their very unusualness, would confuse their finder into supposing that he was not man in the undoing but ape-becoming-man. Such great longevity might account for the comparatively large numbers of weapons and artifacts which make up the substance of prehistory but which are accompanied by so few skeletal remains. A very small population of individuals could leave the remnants of their settlements over tremendous territories if these individuals survived for centuries. And it seems highly probable that greatly extended experience through long years of trial and error would tend to accelerate somewhat the processes of improvement so that the progress from Paleolithic, to Mesolithic, to Neolithic could easily occur in one generation, and Neolithic weapons might have been used to kill Paleolithic Man as Dawson reported. (19)
It is evident, therefore, that morphology in itself is not really any guide at all to lineal relationships. Indeed, even the chance finding of the skeletons of a mother and a child together, although
19. Dawson. Sir J. William, Fossil Men and Their Modern Representatives, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1883, p.123.
it may be presumptive evidence of a mother-child relationship, could never be taken as absolute proof. Almost all fossil remains are “proved” to be related in this way only in the sense that if you agree to the theory of evolution to start with, the relationship might be reasonably assumed. But in itself, similarity of form does not prove relationship. Those who see in their own finds, or who wish to see in them, more of man than of ape tend to classify them by tacking the suffix –anthropus on their name. Those who re-emphasize rather the antiquity of their finds tend to classify them as -pithecus. Thus there are two alternative temptations, one being to stress the antiquity of man’s supposed ancestors, and the other the humanness of them. Another factor clearly enters into these naming games and that is the prestige of having made a find which initiates a new genus, sub-family, or other category of some kind. Thus von Koenigswald calls his Javanese find Meganthropus, whereas others see it as merely representative of one branch of Australopithecines. Similarly, Leakey labels his Olduvai finds as Zinjanthropus whereas others would rob his specimens of their unique status by reducing them also to a mere Australopithecine. (20) The unfortunate thing is that the very naming of these finds can give to them a weight of importance which can be quite unjustified. The name creates the significance, not the find itself.
Sir Solly Zuckerman, (21) in a paper with the intriguing title, “An Ape or The Ape,” pointed out that far too much importance tends to be attached to small differences between specimens which but for these differences would certainly be classed as a single species. His argument was that the study of modern apes, and other creatures, demonstrates clearly and emphatically that within a single family of apes or monkeys there may be individuals whose divergence from one another is far greater than the divergence which may be observed in two particular fossils that on that account classified as not only belonging to a different species but even different genera. To quote one of his opening passages:
Some students claim, or rather assume implicitly, that the phyletic relations of a series of specimens can be clearly defined from an assessment of morphological similarities and dissimilarities, even when the fossil evidence is both slight and noncontinuous geologically. Others, who in the light of modern genetic knowledge are surely on firmer ground, point out that several genes or several gene patterns may have identical phyletic effects, and that when we deal with limited or
20 Meganthropus: see G. H. R. von Koenigswald, quoted by J. T. Robinson, “The Origin and Adaptive Radiation of the Australopithecines” in Human Evolution: Readings in Physical Anthropology, edited by N. Korn and F. Thompson, Holt, Rinehart& Winston, New York, 1967, p.280; for Zinjanthropus: see “The Fossil Skull from Olduvai,” editorial comment in British Medical Journal, Sept. 19, 1959, p.487.
21. Zuckerman, Sir Solly, “An Ape or The Ape,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol.81, 1951, p.57.
Zuckerman subsequently quoted A. H. Schultz, one of the foremost students of the Primates, as having said: (22)
Among several hundred monkeys of one species, collected in the uniform environment surrounding one camp in the forest of Nicaragua, were found specimens with pug noses and those with straight profiles, some with large ears and others with small ones. In short, they differed from one another as widely as would an equal number of human city dwellers and this in spite of the fact that these monkeys all had the same occupation, the same diet, and the same climatic conditions, and this during thousands of generations.
In 1943, Gaylord Simpson had similarly written: (23)
Earlier paleontologists had no real idea of the extent of morphological variation that can occur in a single species… Workable criteria have only slowly been achieved, hand in hand with similar work by neo-zoologists and with experimental work. . .
It is conservative to guess that among previously proposed species of fossil vertebrates, aside from types of currently recognized genera, not more than a quarter represent natural and distinct groups. The fraction of valid species is probably much lower.
In spite of these warnings it appears that minute differences in measurements between this point and that or along some axis or other of a fossil fragment that has already been distorted by its long burial in the earth are made the basis of pontifical pronouncements about the relationships and ancestral lines of potential candidates for protohumanship. When Zuckerman presented his paper, he stated specifically that he had in mind the current debates about the Australopithecines and other African fossil primate specimens. He argues such statements are of highly doubtful validity, and these doubts extend with equal force to the estimates made of cranial capacity. And with respect to dentition, he argues that the impressive tables designed to illustrate relationships, or otherwise, are fundamentally exercises “in dental anatomy, not in primate phylogeny.”
One thing is certain: no one is ever tempted to make any pronouncement regarding their particular finds which puts the slightest question mark against their evolutionary origin. Evolution is unchallengeable. Nor does Zuckerman challenge it.
LeGros Clark has pointed out that “practically none of the genera and species of fossil hominoids [and this includes all the Australopithecines according to Robinson] which have from time to
22. Schultz, A. H., quoted by Zuckerman, ibid., p.58.
23. Simpson, G. G., quoted by Zuckerman, ibid., p.59.
Probably the one single factor which above all others has unduly, and quite unnecessarily, complicated the whole picture of human phylogeny is the tendency for the taxonomic individualization of each fossil skull or fragment of a skull by assuming it to be a new type which is specifically, or even generically, distinct from all others.
In the popular mind, the Australopithecines are constantly being presented as though they were little by little filling the gap between man and his animal ancestors, and the temptation has been for “fossil-finders” to contribute to this confusion by attaching names to their finds which are intended to reinforce this impression. (26) In point of fact, not only are these names unjustified in many cases but the line itself now appears to have continued its imagined evolutionary development right up into Pleistocene times when modern man was already in existence. This has the unfortunate consequence of making man as old as his supposed ancestors, which seems nonsense to me, but in the evolutionist’s credo, this is his faith — “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. . . .”
24. Clark, LeGros, “Bones of Contention,” in Human Evolution:Readings in Phycsical Anthroplogy, edited by N. Korn and F. Thompson, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1967 p.302.
25. Ibid., p.299f.
26. Thus Sir Solly Zuckerman, “Correlation of Change in the Evolution of Higher Primates,” in Evolution as a Process, edited by Julian Huxley, A.C. Hardy, E. B. Ford, Allen & Unwin, London, 1954, p.301. “The fundamental difficulty has been that in the great majority of cases the descriptions of the specimens that have been provided by their discoverers have been so turned as to indicate that the fossils in question have some special place or significance in the line of direct human ascent as opposed to that of the family of apes.”