Alice C. Linsley
The oldest humans fossils, tools evidence of controlled fire and the oldest human footprints have been found in Africa. Africa is the direction Genesis points for human origins also, although Abraham's Proto-Saharan ancestors listed in Genesis 4, 5 and 10 do not date as early as the oldest human fossils found in Africa.
Lucy and her community were archaic humans who lived about 3.4 million years ago in East Africa. Australopithecus sediba. In my experience, given sufficient remains, all the finds in Africa can be classified as either human (homo) or ape (simian). Lucy and her community fall into the first category.
When British anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva compared the ankle joint, the tibia and the talus fossils of human ancestors ("hominins") between 4.12 million to 1.53 million years old, he discovered that all of the ankle joints resembled those of modern humans rather than those of apes. Chimpanzees flex their ankles 45 degrees from normal resting position. This makes it possible for apes to climb trees with great ease. While walking, humans flex their ankles a maximum of 20 degrees. The human ankle bones are quite distinct from those of apes. (Read about DeSilva’s research here.)
The discovery of a complete fourth metatarsal of A. afarensis at Hadar shows the deep, flat base and tarsal facets that "imply that its midfoot had no ape-like midtarsal break. These features show that the A. afarensis foot was functionally like that of modern humans." (Carol Ward, William H. Kimbel, Donald C. Johanson, Feb. 2011) Read the report here.
When exploring human origins it is important to recognize that most finds can be classified as either human (homo) or ape (simian). Filtering the data through a Darwinian lens leads to conclusions that are misleading. For example Neanderthals were not a different species. They were fully human and they mixed with modern humans who moved out of Africa about 200,000 years ago.
In other words, what Darwinians often label as precursors to humans are well within the range of anatomical modernity. The picture of human evolution that is commonly presented is not supported by the evidence. However, there is general agreement that humans originated in Africa.
Genesis traces Abraham's ancestors to the Nile region of Africa where his people understood themselves as the direct descendants of the first created people. Their ancestral parents are called Adam and Eve. The context for understanding Adam and Eve is African. Confusion as to how we are to interpret these biblical figures will persist until people accept what the Bible says about Abraham's ancestors coming from Africa. Only then can we put this material in its proper cultural context.
Adam is derived from the root DM which refers to blood (dam in Hebrew) and the color red. The Hebrew is related to the Yoruba edom and the Hausa odom which mean red or reddish-brown. The word "adam" is therefore a reference to the color of the soil where Abraham's Kushite ancestors lived. This is likely the red soil that washed down from the Ethiopian Highlands. These soils have a cambic B horizon. Chromic Cambisols have a strong brown or red color.
The association of the color red with Abraham's ancestors has been confirmed by DNA studies of Abraham's Ainu ancestors who had a reddish skin tone. The Ainu are at the center of Cavalli-Sforza's genetic distance chart and anthropological investigation indicates that they originated in the Nile and dispersed as far as Japan and Finland. Genesis 10 describes their migration out of the Nile Valley. The migration out of Africa is shown here.
Abraham's ancestors were kingdom builders. They were the founders of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion. The rulers listed in the Genesis king lists are Jesus Christ's historical ancestors, the people to whom God gave the promise that the Woman's Seed would crush the head of the serpent and restore paradise (Gen. 3:15).
Related reading: First People at Genetic Center; A Kindling of Ancient Memory; Getting the Facts About Human Origins; A.S. Haley Series: Did Adam and Eve Exist?; African Religion Predates Hinduism; Abraham's African Ancestors; Terah's Nubian Ancestors