April 12, 2006

New Hominid Find Adds Little to Evolution Debate

Before any of you ID/evolution/creationism/etc haters or lovers get too excited over this story, stop and think for a second.

Fossil discovery fills gap in human evolution

WASHINGTON - The latest fossil unearthed from a human ancestral hot spot in Africa allows scientists to link together the most complete chain of human evolution so far.

The 4.2 million-year-old fossil discovered in northeastern Ethiopia helps scientists fill in the gaps of how human ancestors made the giant leap from one species to another. That’s because the newest fossil, the species Australopithecus anamensis, was found in the region of the Middle Awash — where seven other human-like species spanning nearly 6 million years and three major phases of human development were previously discovered.

This fossil is 4.2 million years old, modern humans came on the scene (at the earliest) 100,000 years ago --- that’s a 4.1 million year differance. In fact, this was not a human fossil at all; it was a hominid, a primate that walked upright. Genetically or physically speaking here we aren’t talking about anything remotely resembling much less scientifically classified as, a human.

What scientists are commenting on is that they believe this hominid links one very old hominid to another one, thus giving a more contiguous chain of evolution to humans, not strictly of humans.

The quote attributed to Berhane Asfaw is very confusing to me, he starts off by saying

“We just found the chain of evolution, the continuity through time,” study co-author and Ethiopian anthropologist Berhane Asfaw said in a phone interview from Addis Ababa.

But then follows up by saying it is evidence of ‘one place.’

“One form evolved to another. This is evidence of evolution in one place through time.”

The second half of the quote is accurate, while seemingly contradicting the first half the quote --- I can only hope he was having a hard time explaining this all to the reporter.

If you keep on reading the article, you’ll see they are even less sure of exactly what this find proves; it is still really a (educated) guessing game.

This particular aspect of media reporting annoys me tremendously, it also does not “fill in the gaps” it actually only filled a gap, and not the gap I’d be most interested in, mainly the gap between the most “advanced” hominids and distinctive, modern, humans.

To be fair, the BBC stated the find correctly:

“Fossil hunters find remains of a probable direct ancestor of humans that lived more than four million years ago.”

Why must we dumb down things so much for Americans?

This really brings little to the table in regards to the ID/evolution/creation/etc debate, especially in the case of humans since really --- we’re not talking about humans here --- we’re talking about assumed evolutionary common ancestors to humans, and not even a very close one at that.


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