Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Evolution Rears Its Head Once Again

The Scientific Community is once again in a dither over the discovery of an almost complete fossil of an ape believed to be 47 million years old, placing it in the middle of the Eocene. What makes this fossil so exciting is that it is complete, which that in itself makes it unique but the excitement is over the fact that this ape has an opposable thumb. Now this ape was roughly the size of a small dog and was found in China and not in Africa, nevertheless we are told this is THE ancestor of humans. The basis of this conclusion is the belief that man is descended from a common ancestor of apes and this ape has that opposable thumb. Of course the operative word is “belief” because there is no empirical evidence to this belief and in fact the entire tree of life from the Pre-Cambrian pond scum to now is riddled with belief and speculation but very little evidence connecting the various members of this evolutionary tree. This tree of life shows that man is a direct lineal descendant of pond scum.

The descent of man from a common ape-like ancestor rests on the discovery of various hominid bone fragments in the Olduvai Gorge by the Leaky family who seem to have created a family business. They have constructed --based on these bone fragments -- a complete hypothetical family tree for Homo sapiens, which must now accommodate the “Link” as this new ape is called. But including this ape, which is dated at 47 million years in the human family tree established by Leakey introduces a problem because the Leakey fossils are dated at approximately 2.4 million years. The problem is that during this 44 million year span this ape must migrate to Africa from China and in the process evolve from ape to hominid. However, the distinction between apes and monkeys is relatively fuzzy but one of the major distinctions is that monkeys are smaller and have a tail. This new ancestor of man is quite small and has a very long tail. So even though the scientific community is calling this fossil an ape and precursor to man, the evolution must also accommodate the transition from monkey to ape to hominid. Of course none of these transitional fossils exist so this 44 million years of evolution are blank. While the 44 million years may be sufficient for this “evolution to occur it does stretch the imagination to accept that this (monkey) ape evolved into Homo erectus or Homo habilius with no corroborating fossils dating from that transitional period.

Of course this opens the door to the additional question of “speciation” So when did the first ape branch off from other apes and precisely when did those apes fragment into the species called Hominids. In fact what proof can be provided that these Hominids are of the Human Species? In order to be of the same species the possibility of inter-breeding must be present and there is no empirical evidence that this happened or was even possible.

So we are left with a fossil called an ape, which looks suspiciously like a monkey which has been labeled a precursor to humans solely on the basis of its opposable thumb. The next available fossil is of an ape-like creature called a hominid on the basis that it appeared to walk upright. The actual timeline is unclear but the first step in human evolution appears to have been between 4 and 6 million years ago but the first actual human is dated to between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, leaving a very large gap with many gaps and few fossils. Somehow the entire story of evolution appears to be speculative and not really supported by any hard evidence but relies on belief.