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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2001

Did People Really Evolve?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

We’ve all seen pictures of our alleged animal ancestors. Normally, artists draw these creatures as hairy animals that share both human and ape-like characteristics, often carrying clubs and living in caves. Most of us can even recognize their names: Neanderthal Man, Cro-Magnon Man, Lucy, Java Man. But what is the truth about the origin of humans? Did we evolve from ape-like ancestors as many would have us believe, or were we made in the image and likeness of God as Genesis 1:26-27 plainly states? Well, you be the judge. Examine the following evidence, and then make your decision. We think you will see quickly that man did not evolve from ape-like creatures, but instead was created by God.

In looking at the evidence regarding the origins of humans, we first need to dig deeply into the ground. Buried under layers of dirt and rocks we find fossilized skeletons—many of which, once they are discovered, are stored in vaults where they are better protected than gold. However, these skeletons do not look anything like the skeletons you see in science classrooms or taped to the wall at Halloween. These skeletons often are crushed by the weight of the dirt and rocks on top of them, and rarely are they complete! Rather than simply digging up a complete skeleton, researchers often find small pieces and fragments of bones scattered over large areas (some as large as a football field!). Often these fossilized bone fragments are put together like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Occasionally, however, pieces get put together that really belong to two or three different puzzles! But what about all those pictures you’ve seen on the covers of magazines—those complete ape-like skulls? Often those images were simply pictures of casts that had been created using whatever bone fragments were available. From those casts, researchers try to imagine what they believe the creature might have looked like (you know the ones—those hairy creatures that frequently are shown living in caves). These ape-like creatures that were supposed to be the "missing links" between humans and apes are far from it! Look at the evidence:

Neanderthal Man

This is probably one of the most famous "missing links." We are all familiar with pictures of this hairy, ape-like creature that looks like he belongs in a cave. However, after examining the fossil remains, Dr. A.J.E. Cave proved that this was nothing more than an old man who suffered from arthritis! The "Neanderthal" species is nothing more than modern man. No missing link here.

Nebraska Man

Researchers constructed this "missing link" from a single tooth. Pictures were drawn that depicted this ape-like creature (and his family!) gathered around a fire. However, that single tooth later was discovered to be the tooth of an extinct pig! No missing link here.

Piltdown Man

Thought to be a genuine missing link for over forty years, it later was determined that someone had forged this particular "discovery" by combining the skull of a human and the jawbone of an ape! No missing link here.

Java Man

This "missing link" was classified as a member of Homo erectus, the creatures that supposedly gave rise to Homo sapiens (humans). Researchers discovered 4 fossils: two teeth, a skullcap, and a femur (leg bone). The leg bone and teeth were, in fact, human. However, the skullcap was shown to be from a giant gibbon (monkey). No missing link here.


This is one of the most famous and most complete fossilized skeletons. For many years, scientists believed that this small creature walked uprightly and was one of our ancient ancestors. However, as evidence became available regarding the true position of bones for this small creature, it was obvious that Lucy was nothing more than an ape. Furthermore, human artifacts (like footprints) have been found that evolutionists admit are "older" than Lucy, so she couldn’t have given rise to humans. No missing link here.

Homo habilis ("handy man")

This is the creature that is supposed to have evolved from Lucy. But a fairly complete fossil skeleton of Homo habilis was discovered which indicates that this creature was simply an ape and was in no way related to man. This small fossil is of an adult female that stood only about three feet tall. This is as short, or shorter, than Lucy. Furthermore, the rest of the skeleton was every bit as primitive, or ape-like, as that of Lucy, who is supposedly two million years older than this adult female H. habilis. If evolution were truly taking place, you would expect to see physical changes that make this creature more human-like. No missing link here.

Orce Man

A single skull was found near the village of Orce in Spain. Based on this find, some over-eager scientists reconstructed an entire man. For a while, Orce man was said to represent the oldest human fossil ever discovered in Europe. Later, to the embarrassment of many, the bone was identified as being the skull cap of a 6-month-old donkey!

Rhodesian Man

This famous skeleton was found in a zinc mine in 1921, and was displayed prominently for years in the British Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, museum employees who were unfamiliar with human anatomy reconstructed this "ape-man." Since the hip bones were smashed, the designers fashioned this fossil as being stooped over. It wasn’t until many years later, when anatomists examined the skeleton, that it was determined to be nothing more than a modern man.

Flipper Man?

Recently a "collar bone" was found that many believed belonged to a primitive ape-man. Using some fossilized marine plankton at the site, evolutionists incorrectly dated this new ape-man at 5 million years old (that’s 2 million years before Lucy!). However, this "collar bone" eventually was shown to be the fossilized rib of a dolphin!

So what’s going on here? Why is there so much confusion regarding human origins? Many people point out that since apes have a lot of the same genetic material we do (and they do!), they must be our ancestors. And so, each time a skull is dug out of the ground, researchers try to determine just how far along on the evolutionary tree that particular fossil should be placed.

Using evolutionary methods, researchers date the bone fragment they dig up and then they hire an artist to reconstruct what they believe the creature probably looked like. After that, the animals are written up in scientific journals, where they receive their official names. Often these big scientific names tell us something about where the fossils were found (Neanderthal bones were found in the Neander Valley in Germany) or what the creature may have looked like (Kenyanthropus platyops means "flat-faced man from Kenya"). After the material has been dated and named, scientists try to determine where it belongs on their evolutionary tree, which often results in entire limbs being added, moved, or chopped off!

As of 1992, approximately 6,000 human-like fossils existed—some are partial skulls, while others may be only a few teeth. Most of these fossils can be placed into one of two groups: apes or humans. A few fossils do have odd characteristics or show abnormal bone structure. But does that mean we evolved? No. It simply means that we have found a variation in bone structure—a variation that you probably can see in your own classroom at school. Some heads are big, some small. Some noses are pointed, and some are flat. Some jawbones look angled, while some look square. Does that mean some of us still are "evolving"? Or does it mean that there are occasional differences in humans? Remember this exercise the next time you see a picture of one of those ape-like creatures: look at a skeleton (any one will do) and try to draw the person that use to live with that bony framework. What color was their hair? Was it curly, or straight? Were they male or female? Did they have chubby cheeks, or thin? These are hard questions to answer when we are given only bones to examine. Reconstructions that you see in pictures are not based merely on the fossil evidence, but also on ideas of what evolutionists think these creatures may have looked like. The evidence is clear—man did not evolve over millions of years. God, the Giver of life, created humans on the sixth day of creation.

Copyright © 2001 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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