Here are a few more quotes from the book (Amazon/Kindle), dealing specifically this time with Ardi the schizophrenic fossil.
- In 2009, the journal Science announced the publication of long-awaited reports about a 4.4 mya fossil named Ardipithecus ramidus. Expectations were high as its discoverer, UC Berkeley paleoanthropologist Tim White, had previously promised the fossil was a “phenomenal individual” that would be the “Rosetta stone for understanding bipedalism.” When the papers were finally released, the science media took it as an opportunity to evangelize the public for Darwin via the fossil they affectionately dubbed “Ardi.”
- The Discovery Channel ran the headline “‘Ardi,’ Oldest Human Ancestor, Unveiled,” and quoted White stating Ardi is “as close as we have ever come to finding the last common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans.
- The Associated Press’s headline read “World’s oldest human-linked skeleton found,” and stated “the new find provides evidence that chimps and humans evolved from some long-ago common ancestor.
- Science magazine named Ardi the “breakthough of the year” for 2009, and officially introduced her with an article titled “A New Kind of Ancestor: Ardipithecus Unveiled.”
But oh, the skeptics. From Science:
- [S]everal researchers aren’t so sure about these inferences. Some are skeptical that the crushed pelvis really shows the anatomical details needed to demonstrate bipedality. The pelvis is “suggestive” of bipedality but not conclusive, says paleoanthropologist Carol Ward of the University of Missouri, Columbia.
- Also, Ar. ramidus “does not appear to have had its knee placed over the ankle, which means that when walking bipedally, it would have had to shift its weight to the side,” she says.
- Paleoanthropologist William Jungers of Stony Brook University in New York state is also not sure that the skeleton was bipedal. “Believe me, it’s a unique form of bipedalism,” he says. “The postcranium alone would not unequivocally signal hominin status, in my opinion.”
- A subsequent paper by primatologist Esteban Sarmiento in Science noted that “All of the Ar. ramidus bipedal characters cited also serve the mechanical requisites of quadrupedality, and in the case of Ar. ramidus foot-segment proportions, find their closest functional analog to those of gorillas, a terrestrial or semiterrestrial quadruped and not a facultative or habitual biped.”
- Critics also questioned the claim that Ardi was necessarily ancestral to humans. When Ardi’s reports were first published, Bernard Wood stated, “I think the head is consistent with it being a hominin… but the rest of the body is much more questionable.”
- Two years later, Wood co-wrote a paper in Nature elaborating on those criticisms, observing that if “Ardipithecus is assumed to be a hominin,” and ancestral to humans, then this implies the fossil had “remarkably high levels of homoplasy among extant great apes.”
- According to a ScienceDaily article reporting on Wood’s Nature paper, the claim of Ardi “being a human ancestor is by no means the simplest, or most parsimonious explanation.”
- Stanford University anthropologist Richard Klein put it this way: “I frankly don’t think Ardi was a hominid, or bipedal.”
- Sarmiento observed that Ardi had characters which were different not just from humans, but also from apes. In a Time Magazine interview titled, “Ardi: The Human Ancestor Who Wasn’t?,” he elaborated: “[Tim White] showed no evidence that Ardi is on the human lineage,” Sarmiento says. “Those characters that he posited as relating exclusively to humans also exist in apes and ape fossils that we consider not to be in the human lineage.”
- …but are we obligated to take for granted the bold talking points promoted by Ardi’s discoverers in the media? Sarmiento doesn’t think so. According Time Magazine, he “regards the hype around Ardi to have been over-blown.”
And all of that explains why we believe and trust scientists when they us the evidence for darwinian evolution is fact, Fact, FACT ! and why we think that just one side should be taught in the school classroom.