STARTLING DISCOVERIES SUPPORT CREATION
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).