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Theists say:

Lucy and the Australopithecines: Ancestors to Humans?

This is yet another evolutionary fable, and an example of the inevitable circular reasoning behind evolutionary theory. The australopithecines had nothing to do with human origins, they are simply extinct primates. There is already evidence which shows that humans appeared in the fossil record before the australopithecines and lived as contemporaries with the australopithecines throughout all of australopithecine history.

The case for the australopithecines as human ancestors has been based on three evolutionist claims: that they were relatively big brained; that they were bipedal; and that they appear in the fossil record at the relevant time. In reality, the fossil record shows us that the australopithecines do not appear in the fossil record at the relevant time -- they are far too recent. Although brain organization is more important than brain size alone, the significant gap between cranial capacities of the largest australopithecine and the smallest human has not been bridged. There is no smooth transition from nonhuman to human fossils in this regard.

The evidence for australopithecine bipedality is controversial. First it should be noted that bipedality does NOT indicate a human relationship. Birds are bipedal, but no one suggests that they are closely related to humans. Evolutionists make much of the alleged australopithecine bipedality because to make a case for human evolution they must demonstrate the origin of bipedality from a primate stock.

If indeed the australopithecines were bipedal, there is strong evidence that their locomotion was significantly different from that of humans (consequently most paleoanthropologists agree that if they did in fact walk, it was not in a human manner). This brings us to the infamous Laetoli footprints, discovered by associates of Mary Leakey beginning in 1978, thirty miles south of Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania. The strata above the footprints has been dated at 3.6 million years ago, while the strata below them has been dated at 3.8 million years ago (K-Ar). These footprint trails, preserved in fresh volcanic ash by a unique combination of circumstances, are one of the greatest fossil discoveries of the twentieth century.

Mary Leakey described the footprints as "remarkably similar to those of modern man." (National Geographic, April 1979, p. 446) Three parallel trails are seen, made by three individuals, with one individual walking in the footprints of another. There are a total of sixty-nine prints extending a length of about thirty yards. Virtually everyone agrees that these prints are strikingly similar to those of modern humans, yet in spite of this fact, evolutionists have ascribed them to the Lucy-type hominid known as Australopithecus afarensis. Obviously this is totally unprovable.

The most extensive recent study of these footprints was done by specialist Russel H. Tuttle at the invitation of Mary Leakey. Not only did he confirm the remarkable humanness of the Laetoli hominid feet, but he described them as "indistinguishable from those of habitually barefoot Homo sapiens." He also said that "none of their features suggest that the Laetoli hominids were less capable bipeds than we are." (see American Journal of Physical Anthropology, February 1991, p.244) He not only rejects the notion that the Laetoli footprints were made by Australopithecus afarensis, but he found that the former work on the footprints which led to this conclusion was flawed.

So WHY then do evolutionists not ascribe these fossil footprints to Homo? Because that would not fit the evolutionary timeline. According to the theory of evolution, those footprints are too old to have been made by true humans. It is a classic case of interpreting the facts according to a preconceived philosophical bias. Evolutionists refuse to call extremely old fossils by their proper names, in order to protect evolution theory. Hence, it is obvious we are dealing not with science but with a philosophy.

(See Bones of Contention by Marvin L. Lubenow, pg. 166-168, 173-176)

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