Alice C. Linsley
Regular readers of Just Genesis know that I am an "old Earth" creationist. I also recognize the reality of genetic mutation and species adaptation. However, I find no physical support for the Darwinian theory of common ancestry of humans and apes. In fact, the material evidence supports the biblical assertion that humans are a "special creation" and were fully human from the beginning.
|Image by John Hawks, one of the co-authors of the paper describing these bones.|
The bones from the cave in South Africa were recovered by the Rising Star Expedition. The bones were found in a chamber named Dinaledi, accessible through a narrow chute about a hundred yards from the entrance of the Rising Star Cave. The cavern in which the fossils were found has only fine sediment and no evidence of water transport of material from any outside source.
Parts of the skeletons resemble modern human anatomy while other skeletal remains resemble the australopiths, like Lucy. In other words, this burial pit contained the remains of people who ranged in appearance about as much as modern humans.The bones/bodies were deposited over “some period of time.”
This find is being presented as a "new branch" of homo, called Homo naledi. These researchers do not consider Lucy and her kin to be fully human, though there is much evidence to suggest so. They hang a great deal on the size of brain cavity, though this is not an indicator of complexity of thought. In this view, H. naledi is slightly more human than the A. australopithecine and slightly less human than modern humans. Again this is based on the size of the brain cavity. That of H. naledi is less than half that of the average modern human skull, but proportional to the rest of the body. The 1500 bones and bone fragments represent at least 15 individuals. The adults were about 5 feet tall.
The cave burial of so many archaic humans suggests these people practiced ritual burial. No stone tools, clothing or other artifacts have been found in this burial site. There are numerous sets of bones from multiple individuals of different ages and sexes. There are many more bones awaiting further excavation.
Next week there is to be a 2-hour PBS-Nova presentation which will address these two years of research. It will be interesting to see how this is presented.
Jeffrey Schwartz thinks that the H. naledi remains represent two or more different species. He makes his case in Newsweek: “Why the Homo Naledi Discovery May Not Be Quite What it Seems”. On the other hand, John Hawks states that "The variation within the collection is not high, it is extraordinarily low." Hawks reports: "Homo naledi has a mosaic of features that include some that compare most closely to more primitive australopiths, and others that compare more closely to Homo. How do we know that this is one species rather than a jumble of species mixed together? Simple: every feature that is repeated in the sample is nearly identical in all individuals that preserve it."
Archaic humans or sub-human evolving by various branches to modern human?
Related reading: Genesis on Human Origins; Facts About Human Origins; Was Lucy Fully Human?; Overview of Human Origins; This Face Changes the Human Story; Does the Binary Feature Signal Greater Complexity?