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Creation Vs. Evolution: Paleontology

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Missing Link…Still Missing

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Perhaps you recall in 2009 the media hype about the discovery of an alleged “missing link” fossilized skeleton, dubbed “Ida” (Franzen, et al., 2009). The media boldly issued statements, with no disclaimers, such as, “Scientists have found a 47-million-year-old human ancestor” (Public Library of Science, 2009). Ida was added to the list of alleged missing links in the line between humans and our supposed distant primate ancestor—one by one of which have proven to be false, though many have not gotten the memos on the matter. ScienceDaily unabashedly dubbed Ida “a transitional species,” as though the case had been closed, and the truth had been conclusively substantiated (2009). In 2009, Jorn Hurum, world-renowned Norwegian fossil scientist of the Oslo Natural History Museum and co-discoverer of Ida, said, “This is the first link to all humans…truly a fossil that links world heritage” (Public Library of Science, 2009). Philip Gingerich of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan and co-discoverer of Ida said, “It’s really a kind of Rosetta Stone” (Public Library of Science, 2009). Pretty grandiose claims, to be sure, but hardly uncommon among evolutionary paleontologists today, who tend to be quick to claim evidence for evolutionary theory without adequate evidence. According to ScienceDaily, Ida lacked “two of the key anatomical features found in lemurs: a grooming claw on the second digit of the foot, and a fused row of teeth in the middle of her lower jaw known as a toothcomb” (2009). Instead, supposedly Ida’s talus bone linked her to humans, which “has the same shape as in humans today” (Public Library of Science, 2009). The 2009 ScienceDaily article ended with a bold quote from broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough: “The little creature is going to show us our connection with all the rest of the mammals. The link they would have said until now is missing…it is no longer missing” (2009).

The media and the evolutionist-flooded paleontology community are notoriously quick to make grandiose claims about fossil finds when they appear potentially to support the idea of human evolution. As has proven to be the case time and time again, further scientific investigation often elicits retractions by the paleontology community about their initial conclusions concerning fossil finds—and this instance is no exception. However, by the time the appropriate retractions are made, and the initial proclaimers of the error run in the opposite direction with their proverbial tails between their legs, typically throwing the researchers under the bus in an attempt to save themselves, the damage has already been done. New Latin species names have already been designated and printed, people are made famous, and the textbooks have picked up the alleged evidence in support of evolution and printed it. Hardly anyone hears the soft little admission of “whoops” coming from the corner. The media does not want to announce it too loudly, because they are often at fault in spreading the error, and many in the evolutionary community do not want to announce the error too loudly because of the fear of more bad publicity for the false theory of evolution. The loudest proclamations of truth are left to the competitors of the paleontologists (i.e., other paleontologists), who are themselves often biased in one way or another. And, of course, there are the creationists standing on the street corners yelling to all who will hear, “The evidence still supports the creation model. The truth needs no retractions!”

In November of 2010, evolutionary anthropologists Blythe Williams and Richard Kay of Duke University, Chris Kirk, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, and evolutionary biologist Callum Ross of the University of Chicago, announced the findings of their own research on Ida and responded to the work of Franzen, et al. (Williams, et al.). Their findings? Ida is not a missing link as was claimed. What was Ida? According to this new research, Ida was, in fact, a forebearer of modern-day lemurs and lorises. The authors note that the research of Franzen, et al. “ignores two decades of published research showing that similar fossils [i.e., to the Ida fossil—JM] are actually strepsirrhines, the primate group that includes lemurs and lorises,” according to ScienceDaily, in direct contradiction with the thrust of their article published a year earlier (Public Library of Science, 2010). Chris Kirk unequivocally stated, “Many lines of evidence indicate that Darwinius [i.e., Ida—JM] has nothing at all to do with human evolution” (Public Library of Science, 2010). ScienceDaily, overtly distancing themselves from the conclusions of Franzen, et al., in spite of their clear support of the team’s conclusions a year earlier, note concerning their work: “Anthropologists were immediately skeptical of the conclusions and began writing the responses that are being published this month” (2010). Williams, et al. argue that Ida does not contain key anatomical features that would prove it to be a close relative of haplorhines (i.e., apes, monkeys, humans, and tarsiers), like “a middle ear with two chambers and a plate of bone that shields the eyes from the chewing muscles” (Public Library of Science, 2010). Kirk said, “There is no evidence that Darwinius shared these features with living haplorhines. And if you can’t even make that case, you can forget about Darwinius being a close relative of humans or other anthropoids” (Public Library of Science, 2010).

There is no solid, substantiated evidence in support of the theory of evolution. Even the evolutionists themselves cannot come to an agreement on any of the proposed evidence. Why? Because all of the alleged evidence is a matter of interpretation. The key in scientific investigation is to determine an interpretation of the facts that harmonizes with all of the scientific evidence. When a theory proves itself time and again to be in contradiction with the evidence, the unbiased, scientific response should be to scrap the theory and find a model in keeping with the evidence. The creation model is in keeping with all of the scientific evidence. Why reject it in support of a failed theory? If you believe that the bulk of the evolutionary community will pay any attention to this latest memo casting further doubt on the veracity of evolutionary interpretation techniques, I strongly advise you not to hold your breath as you wait. [NOTE: See Butt, 2009; Lyons, 2009; and Lyons and Butt (2009) for further discussion on the Ida fossil]

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2009), “Following Up On a Messy, and Still Missing, Link,”Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=2729.

Lyons, Eric (2009), “Ida, One More Time,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=2726.

Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2009), “Ida—A Missing Link?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=347.

Franzen, Jens L., Philip D. Gingerich, Jorg Habersetzer, Jorn H. Hurum, Wighart von Koenigswald, B. Holly Smith (2009), “Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology,” PLoS ONE, 4[5]:e5723, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005723.

Public Library of Science (2009), “Common Ancestor of Humans, Modern Primates? ‘Extraordinary’ Fossil Is 47 Million Years Old,” ScienceDaily, May 19, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090519104643.htm.

Public Library of Science (2010), “‘Missing Link’ Fossil Was Not Human Ancestor as Claimed, Anthropologists Say,” ScienceDaily, March 2, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302131719.htm.

Williams, Blythe A., Richard F. Kay, E. Christopher Kirk, and Callum F. Ross (2010), “Darwinius Masillae Is a Strepsirrhine—A Reply to Franzen et al. (2009),” Journal of Human Evolution, 29[5]:567-573, November.




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