Here’s a story that appeals to the nasty anti-authoritarian streak which I’ve nurtured into an all out animosity towards smug know-it-all’s.
Here’s how the story starts.
Surprising fossils dug up in Africa are creating messy kinks in the iconic straight line of human evolution with its knuckle-dragging ape and briefcase-carrying man.
Now how many times a year do we see this story. Some new discovery makes scientists rethink how man came about a dozen times each year. And each one is a heralded “breakthrough.” And we’re supposed to take from this that science is always progressing but this also means they were wrong before. But we’re supposed to listen to them now because they just proved themselves wrong. (So they’re right now?)
The new research by famed paleontologist Meave Leakey in Kenya shows our family tree is more like a wayward bush with stubby branches, calling into question the evolution of our ancestors.
The old theory was that the first and oldest species in our family tree, Homo habilis, evolved into Homo erectus, which then became us, Homo sapiens. But those two earlier species lived side-by-side about 1.5 million years ago in parts of Kenya for at least half a million years, Leakey and colleagues report in a paper published in Thursday’s journal Nature.
In 2000 Leakey found an old Homo erectus complete skull within walking distance of an upper jaw of the Homo habilis, and both dated from the same general time period. That makes it unlikely that one evolved from the other, researchers said.
It’s the equivalent of finding that your grandmother and great-grandmother were sisters rather than mother-daughter, said study co-author Fred Spoor, a professor of evolutionary anatomy at the University College in London.
That’s kind of weird and creepy and doesn’t really sound like a scientific theory I want to base my life on.
The story continues:
The two species lived near each other, but probably didn’t interact with each other, each having their own “ecological niche,” Spoor said. Homo habilis was likely more vegetarian and Homo erectus ate some meat, he said. Like chimps and apes, “they’d just avoid each other, they don’t feel comfortable in each other’s company,” he said.
They have some still-undiscovered common ancestor that probably lived 2 million to 3 million years ago, a time that has not left much fossil record, Spoor said.
Look at those paragraphs. The words “probably” and “likely” are cornerstones of science, don’t you know? But the theory still must be held together by some “still undiscovered common ancestor that (here comes the word again) ‘probably’ lived millions of years ago but oddly enough didn’t leave any fossils so don’t expect facts any time in the near future.
Personally, it doesn’t matter a whit to me to what level evolution is true. There’s so much I don’t understand about God and His ways that I just add it to the pile. I still don’t understand magnets. Whether God waved a wand and immediately made man in current form or tweaked him over millenia doesn’t really matter to me.
I just don’t like the smugness of…well…this past century. In fact, I’m downright smug against those who are smug. I don’t feel good about it. I’m just being honest. Just once I’d like a scientist to say, “We really don’t have a clue what happened before. We’re just starting to put pieces together and its too early to derive any hard answers.” Wouldn’t that be nice? Well this next quote is as close as it gets.
That old evolutionary cartoon, while popular with the general public, keeps getting proven wrong and too simple, said Bill Kimbel, who praised the latest findings. He is science director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University and wasn’t involved in the research team.
“The more we know, the more complex the story gets,” he said. Scientists used to think Homo sapiens evolved from Neanderthals, he said, but now know that both species lived during the same time period and that we did not come from Neanderthals.
WHAT?! Now excuse me but I was taught that we did come from Neanderthals in school. I paid attention that day. Every time I acted out in school I blamed it on my inner Neanderthal. But that’s wrong now? I wasn’t told. Can’t we get a recall on faulty science we learned in school. A memo should be sent out to all former students of Ms. Golden Grade 2 Class of 1977, “Dear former student, I formerly taught you that you used to be a Neanderthal. But it turns out you’re not. So good luck and remember to drink your milk. Sincerely, Ms. Golden.”
Scientists have the only job that you get rewarded for proving yourself wrong. “Look everyone, I’m wrong. But at least now we can all agree that I’m wrong. So we’re right once again. Can I have another grant?”