Has the Missing Link been disproved? And has Lucy (the link between the Missing Link and us) been cast aside?
This is the headline of the article in the National Geographic magazine:
Oldest “Human” Skeleton Found—Disproves “Missing Link”Here, based on my reading of the article, are what seem to be the main conclusions that are being drawn from the announcement of the discovery of the 4.4 million year old (a million years older than Lucy) female fossil of the species Ardipithecus ramidus:
“This find is far more important than Lucy. It shows that the last common ancestor with chimps didn’t look like a chimp, or a human, or some funny thing in between.”
I understand the second sentence, but not the first. Why is Lucy (who, by the way, is on display in New York City as I write this) made far less important by this discovery—unless they are saying that Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, is not an ancestor of humans? That would make sense, since Lucy has often been described as a chimp that walked upright, meaning that Lucy is a descendent of the chimp-like Missing Link, which, we’re now told, didn’t exist. Or rather it would mean that the Missing Link / common ancestor was the common ancestor of chimps on one side and of Australopithecines on the other, and that the latter died out without leading to humans.
But if the scientists are indeed claiming that Ardi is an ancestor of humans, and that Lucy is not, what are their grounds for saying so?
One possible reason found in the article, though it is not presented explicitly as a basis for the idea that humans are descended from Ardi and not from Lucy, is that while chimps and gorillas have very rigid wrist bones, “the wrists and finger joints of Ardipithecus were highly flexible,” i.e., more like those of humans.
In any case, if humans are descended from Ardi and not from Lucy, then pre-human evolution preceded along totally didfferent lines from those that have been thought to be the case ever since Darwin.
But wait. The article’s own claims are thrown into question near the end. A scientist is quoted saying:
“This is a fascinating skeleton, but based on what they present, the evidence for bipedality is limited at best.”
Further, one of the co-leaders of the Ardi study, Tim White, is quoted, at the very end of the article, saying:
Study co-leader White sees nothing about the skeleton “that would exclude it from ancestral status.”Oh.
So they’re not saying that Ardi is an ancestor of humans. They’re saying that nothing “excludes” her from being an ancestor of humans.
White also says that “more fossils are needed to resolve the issue.”
So, if you believe that the Missing Link is hype and that this story disproves it, please understand that this story is also hype.
Chuck Ross writes:
I believe they’re saying that chimps and apes are merely cousins of ours rather than ancestors. We diverged from a common ancestor that predates Lucy. Although Ardi may merely be another “cousin” who died off before leading directly to humans, she is closer to the “Missing Link” than Lucy was. This link may provide insight.LA replies:
“I’m curious, though, what are the intentions of your post? Are you trying to assert that this undermines Darwinism?”LA continues:
Also, you make a couple of incorrect assumptions in your comment.Chuck Ross writes:
I made the assumption that you would be using this to somehow show that Darwinism rests on faulty foundation. If that wasn’t your intent then I jumped to conclusions. From here on out I’ll read your posts literally rather than deconstructively.LA replies:
“I made the assumption that you would be using this to somehow show that Darwinism rests on faulty foundation.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 01, 2009 05:34 PM | Send