No. 171


By Duane T. Gish, Ph. D.

What do the fossils of a bird and of a "hominid," separated by

almost 225 million years on the evolutionary time scale, have in

common? Technically, not much, but they both have powerfully

rattled the cages of evolutionists, springing new leaks in a

rotting theory, already threatening to founder in the Arctic seas

of cold, hard scientific facts. The "hominid" is an alleged

1.8-million-year-old fossil of a creature called Homo habilis,

discovered in the Olduvai Gorge of Tanzania by an expedition

headed by Donald Johanson, Director of the Institute of Human

Origins, University of California, Berkeley. Evolutionists have

always maintained that Homo habilis is intermediate between apes

and man. The fossil bird was discovered in the

"225-million-year-old" Dockum Formation near Post, Texas, by

Sankar Chatterjee, a paleontologist at Texas Tech University.

The article in Nature, a British science journal, announcing the

discovery of the two fossilized birds' was headlined, "Fossil Bird

Shakes Evolutionary Hypotheses," and the article in Science, an

American science journal, discussing the discovery of the fossil

"hominid," was entitled, "The Earliest 'Humans' Were More Like


Man (Homo sapiens) is the only living species within the

family of man, the Hominidae. Creationists believe that Homo

sapiens is the only species that has ever existed within the

Hominidae. Evolutionists, on the other hand, believe that

sometime (estimates vary from four to 30 million years ago), man

and apes shared a common ancestor. Somehow, they believe, this

ancestral population gave rise to two evolutionary lines, one

leading to modern apes and the other leading to modern man.

Evolutionists include all of the hypothetical intermediates in the

line that led from ape to man in the family Hominidae, and all

such supposed intermediates are called "hominids."

Fossils of ape-like creatures, given the genus name of

Australopithecus, have been found in Africa, including A.

africanus in South Africa by Raymond Dart, A. bosei in East Africa

by Louis Leakey, and A. afarensis in Ethiopia by Donald Johanson.

Louis Leakey discovered fossils of

creatures in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania which he claimed were

more "advanced" than the australopithecines-sufficiently advanced

to place them in the same genus as man. He designated these

creatures Homo habilis ("handy man"), believing that they had

formed primitive tools.3 Many paleoanthropologists argue, however,

that these creatures were simply variants of the

australopithecines. It has long been maintained by most

evolutionists that the australopithecines, although grossly

ape-like, had teeth somewhat more man-like than those found in

modern apes, and that they walked upright, essentially, in a human

manner. They were thus supposedly on their way to becoming

people, and are called "hominids." Some evolutionists, on the

other hand, such as Lord Zuckerman and Charles Oxnard, strongly

dispute this view, maintaining that the australopithecines did not

walk upright in the human manner and were not intermediate between

ape and man.4

The discovery of a more complete fossil skeleton of Homo

habilis, although still quite fragmentary, considerably

strengthens the contention of creation scientists that these

creatures, while not the same as any one of the modern apes, were,

nevertheless, simply apes, in no way related to man. The fossil

remains were discovered by Tim White of the Johanson team, and are

described in a recent Nature article.-' Several important

features of this creature took evolutionists by surprise. The

first shock was its tiny stature. The fossil is of an adult

female that stood only about three feet tall. This is as short,

or shorter, than that of "Lucy," the alleged 3.8-million-year-old

adult female, A. afarensis, discovered in Ethiopia by Johanson.

Furthermore, the postcranial skeleton (that portion of the

skeleton below the skull) was every bit as primitive, or ape-like,

as that of "Lucy," who is supposedly two million years older than

this allegedly 1.8-million-year-old fossil of H. habilis.

Recovery of the remains of the arm of this H. habilis fossil

revealed the fact that, just as is true of apes, it had very long

arms, with finger tips reaching almost down to the knees.

All of the species of Australopithecus and Homo habilis had

long curved fingers and long curved toes. Creatures with such

anatomical features use them for only one purpose-swinging from

branch to branch in the trees. So much for the supposed

human-like upright locomotion of Homo habilis and

Australopithecus, including "Lucy."

Hardly more than a year ago, Alan Walker, of Johns Hopkins

University, and Richard Leakey, son of Louis and Mary Leakey and

Director of the National Museums of Kenya, announced the discovery

of the fossilized remains of a 12-year-old male on the western

shore of Lake Turkana in Kenya.6 Its height was 5'6", and Walker

and Leakey estimated that if he had lived to adulthood, he would

have been six feet tall. Walker declared that its postcranial

skeleton was so similar to that of modern man he doubted whether

an average pathologist could tell the difference. Furthermore, he

said that when they placed the jaw on the skull, it looked similar

to Neanderthal Man. In spite of the fact that Neanderthal Man is

classified as fully human Homo sapiens, and that the postcranial

skeleton of this 12-year-old male was essentially identical to

that of modern man, Walker and Leakey classified him as Homo

erectus, a sub-human species, rather than Homo sapiens. No doubt

one of the major reasons for this is the fact that the fossil was

dated at 1.6 million years, supposedly 1.5 million years older

than Homo sapiens.

These results posed a surprise for evolutionists. Here we

have supposedly the most primitive hominid, "Lucy" (A. afarensis),

allegedly 3.8 million years old, and the new fossil of H. habilis,

allegedly two million years younger. Instead of this H. habilis

fossil being much more advanced and man-like, as evolutionists

would expect, it is a three-foot-high creature with long arms

bearing long curved fingers, just as do modern apes. Since its

postcranial skeleton is essentially identical to that of "Lucy," a

creature supposedly two million years older, there had been no

evolutionary change whatsoever in the postcranial skeleton in

these alleged two million years. Then, 200,000 years later,

according to evolutionists (a mere blink of the eye on an

evolutionary time scale), all of a sudden a creature appears (the

12-year-old Homo erectus of Walker and Leakey) that has a

postcranial skeleton essentially identical to modern man, and

nothing further happens to the postcranial skeleton for the next

1.6 million years!

If all of this is true, as evolutionists believe, then

evolution is a tricky game, indeed. The australopithecines

("Lucy" and her fellow creatures) abruptly appeared about four

million years ago-from where, nobody knows. These little

creatures, three to four feet tall, then stick around for about

two million years or more with no essential change, certainly as

far as their postcranial skeleton is concerned. Then, in a blink

of geological time, their postcranial skeleton, with long arms and

long curved fingers and toes, is replaced by a postcranial

skeleton essentially identical to that of modern man, which then

remains unchanged up to the present, or about 1.6 million years.

Do we see evolution here? Absolutely not. Ape-like creatures

(the australopithecines) suddenly appear without a trace of an

ancestor. Their remains are scattered throughout southern and

eastern Africa, with no more variation among them, either

geographically or temporally, than can be found among different

human tribes today. Then Homo erectus suddenly appears in Africa

with a postcranial skeleton essentially identical to that of

modern man and tremendously different from that of australo-

pithecines. Creation scientists eagerly await further fossil

discoveries, confident that additional discoveries will deal the

same fate to present-day supposed human ancestors as was dealt to

Piltdown Man (a hoax), Nebraska Man (a pig's tooth), Ramapithecus

(an orangutan), Orce Man (a donkey's skullcap), and Neanderthal

Man (promoted to Homo sapiens).

Now for the birds. ArchaeopterVx, a fossil bird found in

rocks of the so-called Upper Jurassic, supposedly about 150

million years old, has long been claimed by evolutionists as the

oldest known bird-like creature, intermediate between reptiles and

birds. Although it had the basic form and pattern of the avain

wing, feathers identical to those of modern flying birds, perching

feet, a bird-like skull, a furcula, or wishbone, and other

bird-like features, evolutionists have claimed it had many

reptilian features, including claws on the wings, teeth, and a

long tail. Several birds living today, however, have claws on the

wings, and it is not surprising that, among birds, some had teeth

and some did not. This is true of every other class of

vertebrates, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

The teeth of Archaeopteryx, and of other birds with teeth, were

distinctly different from those of reptiles. Furthermore,

research during the past few years has shown that many of the

alleged reptile-like features of Archaeopteryx are actually

bird-like.',' As with Piltdown Man, evolutionists saw in

ArchaeopterVx what they hoped and expected to see, rather than

what was really there.

The discovery of the two fossil birds in the Dockum Formation

near Post, Texas, by Chatterjee, has dealt a final fateful blow to

Archaeopteryx as a transitional form between reptiles and birds.

The fossil bird discovered by Chatterjee is alleged to be about

225 million years old, or 75 million years older than

Archaeopteryx. An age of 225 million years is supposed to

correspond with the beginning of the so-called Triassic Period,

the first geological period of the Mesozoic Era, the supposed era

of the dinosaurs. Now, what would evolutionists expect of a bird

as old as the oldest dinosaurs-75 million years older than

Archaeopteryx? Why, of course, they would expect this bird to be

very reptile like, much closer to its reptilian ancestor than

Archaeopteryx. Sad to say for evolutionists, it just wasn't so.

The fossil bird discovered by Chatterjee was just the

opposite-even more bird-like than Archaeopteryx! Chatterjee's

fossil bird had a substantial keel, or sternum, characteristic of

most modern birds, but absent, as far as we know, in

Archaeopteryx, and it had hollow bones, also characteristic of

most modern birds (but not all), while ArchaeopterVx had solid

bones. Chatterjee states that the fossils of his newly discovered

bird have advanced avian features that place this bird closer to

modern birds than Archaeopteryx.' Chatterjee's discovery should

now completely mute the claims for a transitional status for



1. Tim Beardsley, Nature, 322:677 (1986).

2. Roger Lewin, Science, 236:1061 (1987)

3. Louis Leakey, P. V. Tobias, and J. R. Napier, Nature, 202:5


4. See D. T. Gish, Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil

Record, Master Books, El Cajon, CA, 1985, pp. 148-151.

5. D. C. Johaiisoil (and nine co authors), Nature, 327:205


6. See D. T. Gish, ibid., pp. 200 202.

7. M. J. Benton, Nature, 305:99 (1983).

8. L. D. Martin, J. D. Stewart, and K. N. Whetstone, The Auk,

97:86 93 (1980).