Evidence for Darwin’s “Descent of Man”: Mountain or Molehill?

If you were to ask any individual, of any education level, if science does in fact have fossil evidence of Darwin’s “descent of man” (evolution from ape to modern day man) he/she would doubtless respond that indeed they do (or believe that they do). Any high school or college biology textbook will have a section devoted to this evidence in which you will read the names of our proposed ancestors: Australopithecus, Ramapithecus, Homo erectus, Homo habilis, Neanderthal, and Cro-Magnon Man to name a few. Anytime anthropologists uncover another ancestral candidate much ado is made and everyone is bound to hear about it from one news outlet or another. The problem is, when each candidate is eventually struck from the “family tree”, no updates or revisions are passed along- leaving those of us not “in the know” to believe that evolution has quite a mountain of evidence on its side. But is the evidence for Darwin’s “Descent of Man” truly a mountain, or more of a molehill? Let’s take a look and see.

First of all, you should be aware that the physical amount of evidence is not what you are led to believe. From Charles Scott Kimball’s The Truth About Cavemen: “In 1982 Dr. Lyall Watson stated: ‘The fossils that decorate our family tree are so scarce that there are still more scientists than specimens. The remarkable fact is that all of the physical evidence we have for human evolution can still be placed, with room to spare, inside a single coffin!’” This might come as a surprise to you if you are assuming that we actually have a somewhat complete skeleton of ANY of our “ancestors”. Most are identified by a very few bones- mostly jaw bones and teeth. In my humble opinion these are pretty big conclusions to come to based on such skimpy evidence. Let’s look at the most famous candidates one by one.

Australopithecus was discovered in Africa in 1924 by Raymond Dart. This is why most evolutionists believe Africa to be the “cradle of civilization”. Many specimens have been found, but by far the most famous and most complete skeleton (40% complete) has been dubbed “Lucy.” Lucy was discovered in 1973. The problem is that they come in many varying sizes and builds, so they are all classified under different names. Because many of the Australopithecus finds have been determined to be nonhuman, it has been suggested that they are actually NOT a separate species, but rather male and female examples of the same ape. In 2015, one of Lucy’s vertebrae was found to actually belong to a baboon. Whoops!

While we’re at it, just a quick note about these “reconstructions”. Boyce Rensberger, writing in Science Digest in 1981, explains them this way: “Unfortunately, the vast majority of artist’s conceptions are based more on imagination than on evidence. But a handful of expert natural-history artists begin with the fossil bones of a hominid and work from there . . . Much of the reconstruction, however, is guesswork. Bones say nothing about the fleshy parts of the nose, lips or ears. Artists must create something between an ape and a human being; the older the specimen is said to be, the more apelike they make it . . . Hairiness is a matter of pure conjecture. The guesswork approach often leads to errors.”

Take the case of the famous “Lucy” for example. In the picture below, the center image is a mold of Lucy’s potential face (remember the fleshy parts of the face are just guesses) . The images to the right and left are different artists representations of what Lucy could have looked like based on the same face mold. Notice the artist has complete control over whether Lucy looks like just another ape or decidedly more “human” (far left) based on the distribution of facial hair (which is ALL guesswork).

So there you have it. These pictures aren’t worth the paper they’re drawn on and likely look precious little like the creature whose bones they are based on.

Ramapithecus is touted as the oldest hominid. It was identified based on a few teeth and some bone fragments that appear similar to human bones. From these few bones, some textbooks boast pictures of what a Ramapithecus “would have” looked like. Apparently, he is envisioned as a little less “apey” than his ancestors, but definitely not very “humaney” yet. I mean- think early evolutionary human. They got all that, from a few teeth and jaw fragments…

Java Man was discovered in 1891 by Eugene Dubois and was identified by one tooth, a piece of a skull bone, and a thighbone. Nevermind that the thighbone wasn’t actually found until a year later and 50 feet from where the other two bones were found. No big deal, because Dubois insisted they belonged together. When Dubois couldn’t get agreement from the scientific community of his day, he buried the bones under his house in a suitcase for 23 years before he finally brought them out again. (What!?!) Before his death in 1923, Dubois confessed that Java Man was actually a giant gibbon. Unfortunately, he is still in textbooks and museums labeled as Homo erectus.

Java Man’s cousin, Peking Man was discovered in 1928. 40 skulls of Peking Man were unearthed from a single cave amid campfire ashes and stone tools leading discoverers to obvious conclusions about Peking Man’s abilities. Unfortunately, what wasn’t disclosed about this discovery is that only skulls and no other body parts were unearthed. To make matters worse, every single skull had been smashed so that the brain could be removed and eaten. Also, seven skeletons of modern men were found at the very same site! This deleted information leads one to come up with all together different conclusions. Like Kimball’s for instance, “ Peking Man was the victim of a feast, and the fire and tools were not used by Peking Man but on Peking Man…The most plausible answer is that “Peking Man” was just another ape like “Java Man” and “Solo Man,” killed and eaten by true men.”

Piltdown Man was discovered in 1911 by Charles Dawson and was deemed to be in the neighborhood of 500,000 years old. In the 1950’s, when dating methods had improved (dating methods are still extremely problematic, but that discussion is outside the scope of this article), Piltdown Man was found to be only about 620 years old. Subsequently, his teeth were found to belong to an ape- Dawson (or someone else) had filed them to disguise them. In 1982, the jawbone was discovered to belong to an orangutan. The bones had also been stained to give the appearance of old age. So, Piltdown man was a 40 year long hoax.

The discovery of a single tooth in Nebraska in 1922 gave rise to the famous Nebraska Man. This tooth was actually entered as evidence in the famous Scopes Trial in which the ACLU sought to usher in the teaching of evolution in science class. Evolutionists of the day scoffed at the “naive, mentally inferior” Creationists who considered a single tooth to be insufficient evidence of evolution. A mere two years after the trial, when a complete skeleton was unearthed with identical teeth, they were found to belong to none other than a fossilized peccary- also known as a wild pig.

Rhodesian man is considered the African counterpart of Heidelberg Man who anthropologists generally agree are an intermediate stage between Homo erectus and modern men. One detail that somehow isn’t widely discussed, is the fact that the Rhodesian Man skull found at Broken Hill quarry (in Zambia) actually has a bullet hole in it. Kimball writes, “The skull has a small round hole in the left temple, with none of the radial cracks around it that an arrowhead or spear would have produced. The right side of the skull is shattered, having been blown apart from the inside. A German forensics expert in Berlin has testified that only a high-speed projectile, like a rifle shot, could have done this kind of damage.” So, two options: either Rhodesian man is not as old as he has been dated to be and was actually shot in the 18th or 19th century (he was found buried 60 feet deep) OR prehistoric people had guns. Either way, evolutionists don’t like what Rhodesian man brings to the table- so they just disregard the information that doesn’t align with their theories. Convenient.

Rhodesian Man Skull Reconstruction picture from Kimball’s article

Ever since Neanderthal Man came on the scene in 1856, he has been considered our slumped, not-so-bright predecessor. Research has since determined that the original Neanderthal skeleton, “Old Man of La Chappelle,” was actually crippled by arthritis, which accounts for the stooped posture. Based on other Neanderthal fossils, it has been determined that Neanderthal’s harsh features may have had more to do with the environment he lived in (an Ice Age) and the health problems that arise due to this fact such as poor diet, and rickets. Other finds have also revealed that he was in fact more intelligent than originally given credit for- the Neanderthal brain is actually a little larger than ours. Presently, scientists no longer consider Neanderthal Man to be a separate species, but instead a distinct race within the human species.

Neanderthal man has also been diagnosed with “acromegaly” (an overactive pituitary gland). Interestingly, this condition causes ordinary men to develop an “apelike appearance” due to the fact that the bones begin to grow again after maturity leading to a “thickening” since the bones cannot grow longer. Other physical characteristics of acromegaly sufferers are large extremities and drooping shoulders. This disease is also hereditary. This is significant because if Neanderthal Man lived in small isolated groups where inbreeding was practiced it would have resulted in a predominantly ape-man looking family group in the fossil record. Kimball notes a recent example of this illness in wrestler Maurice Tillet, pictured below. Imagine what conclusions evolutionary scientists would come to if his skeleton were to be fossilized and unearthed in generations to come. Incidently, Tiller’s face was the inspiration for Shrek’s appearance.

That leaves us with Cro-Magnon Man. I like what Kimball says regarding this evolutionary piece of the puzzle, “ Cro-Magnon was the same height as us and had a brain the same size, and one child’s book has a chapter on Cro-Magnons entitled ‘People Like Us,’ only to say on the next page that they were not simply like us- they were us. There is no point in making this character the missing link if the only differences between him and us are cultural ones.”

Of course, we currently have Homo antecessor that scientists date from 1.2 million to 800,000 years ago and who scientists consider the latest common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals. According to Wikipedia, “As a complete skull has yet to be unearthed, only fourteen fragments and lower jaw bones exist, these scholars point to the fact, that ‘most of the known H. antecessor specimens represent children’ as ‘most of the features tying H. antecessor to modern people were found in juveniles, whose bodies and physical features change as they grow up and go through puberty. It’s possible that H. antecessor adults didn’t really look much like H. sapiens at all.’” So, yeah, from 14 bone fragments we now have this picture of what Homo antecessor “probably” looked like:

I forgot to mention that H. antecessor was cannibalistic. Yikes. Anyhow- let’s give it 40 years and see how this “missing link” gets debunked.