by Paul S. Taylor
Who's Who & What's What in
the World of “Missing” Links?
Is there really evidence that man descended from apes?
Many people honestly believe that the ancestry of mankind has been mapped faithfully and nearly completely. They have heard about “missing links,” and regard them as scientific proof for man's evolution from primates. However, in truth, no ancestor for man has ever been documented. The “missing links” are still missing. Here is a summary of facts relating to some of the most well known fossil discoveries.
- Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (Neandertal man) - 150 years ago Neandertal reconstructions were stooped and very much like an 'ape-man'. It is now admitted that the supposedly stooped posture was due to disease and that Neandertal is just a variation of the human kind.
- Ramapithecus - once widely regarded as the ancestor of humans, it has now been realized that it is merely an extinct type of orangutan (an ape).
- Eoanthropus (Piltdown man) - a hoax based on a human skull cap and an orangutan's jaw. It was widely publicized as the missing link for 40 years.
- Hesperopithecus (Nebraska man) - based on a single tooth of a type of pig now only living in Paraguay.
- Pithecanthropus (Java man) - now renamed to Homo erectus. See below.
- Australopithecus africanus - this was at one time promoted as the missing link. It is no longer considered to be on the line from apes to humans. It is very ape-like.
- Sinanthropus (Peking man) was once presented as an ape-man but has now been reclassified as Homo erectus (see below).
Currently fashionable ape-men
These are the ones that adorn the evolutionary trees of today that supposedly led to Homo sapiens from a chimpanzee-like creature.
- Australopithecus - there are various species of these that have been at times proclaimed as human ancestors. One remains: Australopithecus afarensis, popularly known as the fossil 'Lucy'. However, detailed studies of the inner ear, skulls and bones have suggested that 'Lucy' and her like are not on the way to becoming human. For example, they may have walked more upright than most apes, but not in the human manner. Australopithecus afarensis is very similar to the pygmy chimpanzee.
- Homo habilis - there is a growing consensus amongst most paleoanthropologists that this category actually includes bits and pieces of various other types - such as Australopithecus and Homo erectus. It is therefore an 'invalid taxon'. That is, it never existed as such.
- Homo erectus - many remains of this type have been found around the world. They are smaller than the average human today, with an appropriately smaller head (and brain size). However, the brain size is within the range of people today and studies of the middle ear have shown that Homo erectus was just like us. Remains have been found in the same strata and in close proximity to ordinary Homo sapiens, suggesting that they lived together.
There is no fossil proof that man is the product of evolution. Could it be that the missing links are still missing because they simply do not exist?
Paul S. Taylor is a Bible and science writer and motion picture producer and distributor. He is the Executive Director of Eden Communications and chief designer and editor for the popular Christian Answers Network Web site and various related sites.