Thursday, February 19, 2009

There are many transitional fossils

One of the claims commonly heard from creationists is that there are no, or very few, fossils showing a transition from one species into another. Evolutionists claim that many such fossils exist.

I believe that the best evidence favoring the evolutionary side of the argument comes from “creation scientists”!

One characteristic that we would expect from any transitional fossil is that it would show characteristics of both the ancestor (what preceded it) and the descendent (what followed after). A transitional fossil in ape-to-human evolution should show some characteristics of apes and some characteristics of humans.

Many of the fossils show exactly that combination of characteristics.

As support for this claim, a number of different skulls have been found that evolutionists claim demonstrate human evolution. Those fossils have been given names and their sizes have been measured. Creationists are effectively forced to comment on these skulls once a mainstream scientists declares that it is transitional between apes and humans. While this is not a complete list of all fossil skulls, the table shown below lists those skulls which have been commented on by various "creation scientists"[1]. A total of ten different creationists have commented on each of six different specimens of fossilized skulls. The table below summarizes their opinions and shows references to the sources for those opinions. The important thing to notice is the wide diversity of opinions about whether or not each fossilized skull is that of an ape or a human. Note that each and every “creation scientist” is adamant that each and every fossilized skull is absolutely and undeniably one or the other with no possible doubt about the classification they are making.

As this table shows, despite the insistence of the “creation scientists” that each fossil is undeniably either human or ape, they are not able to agree on which is which! In fact, there are a number of creationists who have changed their opinion on some fossils. They do not even appear to be converging towards a consistent opinion. Gish and Taylor both used to consider Peking Man an ape and ER 1470 a human, but now Gish says they are both apes, and Taylor says they were both humans. Interestingly, widely differing views are held by two of the most prominent creationist researchers on human origins, Gish and Lubenow. Bowden, who has also written a book on human evolution, agrees with neither of them, and Mehlert, who has written a number of articles on human evolution in creationist journals, has yet another opinion, as does Cuozzo in his 1998 book on Neandertals. Cuozzo has taken the most extreme stance yet for a young-earth creationist, saying that even H. erectus fossils (in which he includes the Turkana Boy) should not be considered human. (Old-earth creationist Hugh Ross takes an even more extreme stance, claiming that not even Neandertals should be classified as human.)

It could be pointed out that evolutionists also disagree on how fossils should be classified, which species they belong to, etc. True enough. But according to evolutionary thinking, these fossils come from a number of closely related species intermediate between apes and humans. If this is so, we would expect to find that some of them are hard to classify, and we do.

The only reasonable conclusion is that these fossils are indeed transitional between apes and humans and show characteristics of both.

Many more recently found fossils are not commented upon by “creation scientists”. For example, the recently-discovered Dmanisi skulls overlap the erectus/habilis boundary so perfectly that creationists have almost totally ignored it - and when they have mentioned it, they've carefully avoided making any judgment as to what those skulls might be.

Do transitional fossils exist?

Clearly they do, even in the ape/human evolutionary sequence

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