Scientists Find Skull of Human Ancestor

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Some interesting news from Ethiopia where scientists have uncovered a 250,000 year old, and mostly intact, human skull which could be the ‘missing link’ between Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens.

The face and cranium of the fossil are recognizably different from those of modern humans, but bear unmistakable anatomical evidence that it belongs to the modern human’s ancestry, Sileshi said.

Let’s await the scientific publication of their findings.

Original Press Release

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Considering the lip service ID supporters give to being scientific, it is amazing the contempt they show for the methods of science. Take a good look at the sniping, in the comments section, that flows from the posting of a link to a pretty innocuous a... Read More

49 Comments

I can’t find any relation between the picture in the post and the press release.

mrgoodbar Wrote:

I can’t find any relation between the picture in the post and the press release.

From their news/media center:

The new hominid skull held by Gona project member Asahmed Humet, who discovered the fossil on February 16, 2006 Credit: Sileshi Semaw/Stone Age Institute

Bob

PvM: I’m glad that you used the quotes around “missing link,” but whenever that term is used in public, we must never miss an opportunity to say how misleading it is, and how the misconceptions are fed by anti-evolution activists and the sensationalist media.

Most people simply don’t know that many intermediates have been found, both within our genus and among closely related genera. Or that hominid origins is one area of evolution that anti-evolutionists have failed most dramatically, and thus have resorted to covering up their disagreements or retreating to the Cambrian to suggest independent origins. People also need to know that this discovery will not “prove” or “disprove” evolution, but only make the picture a little clearer. It’s up to us because the media will provide little help and much hindrance.

I just wanted to be the first to say it: “Hah! Two more gaps!”

It will be interesting to see what the young earth creationists make of this one. It will probably go something like “Just another diseased human fossil”

According to them neanderthals, while being recognised as a separate species from us by evolutionary scientists, are really just humans with rickets !

Daniel, it’s “One more gap” actually. ;-)

I agree that we must use caution when talking about “missing links”.

I’ll place my bets on a “cousin” from a common ancestor, although the young age might indicate direct lineage. It’s a real pity DNA cannot be obtained from fossils. The brain cc should also be interesting.

It appears as if in the last 20mya there was various type of humanoids. What was the reason for this diversity? Geological isolation?

Oh, what again does ID say about a find like this???

If we came from a missing link between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, how come there are still missing links between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens?

Ohhhhh! Look, science… Much harder than “poofing.” ;)

If we came from a missing link between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, how come there are still missing links between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens?

And how come there are still Homo erectus around? Oh… wait…

Ohhhhh! Look, science… Much harder than “poofing.” ;)

Are you insinuating that Homo Erectus did not poof???? lol

This is indeed very exciting. What will be even more exciting is the Disco Institute’s reponse. Maybe the skull was intelligently designed to seem 250,000 years old.

Oh, what again does ID say about a find like this???

That’s an easy one–

This looks designed. The End.

ID would likely say

We don’t understand Looks designed Thus designed

Dante Wrote:

This is indeed very exciting. What will be even more exciting is the Disco Institute’s response. Maybe the skull was intelligently designed to seem 250,000 years old.

No, that would be the “Omphalos” creationists. The DI has no problem with fossils being 250,000, or even 250,000,000 years old. That of course won’t stop them from spinning it as just another ape or human. Michael Behe might even admit that it’s an ancestor or closely related extinct branch. Mostly, though, what the DI will try to do is seek quotes from overenthusiastic scientists and take them out of context to show how “Darwinists” never consider any other explanation. What they won’t tell you is that if ID had even a hint of a scientific explanation, that “Darwinists” would embrace it.

ID, Creationist and all Fundies are people who have a backwards view of reality and time. They are like a drunken guy riding his trusty horse the wrong way around, facing the rear end of the faithful beast. And what do they do? They whine and complain that they have to keep their fingers in the “main artery” so that the horse does no bleed to death.

Their problem is not that “evilution” is cutting off their faith’s (horse’s) head, their problem is they are looking the wrong way.

Is anybody else getting an occasional massive bogging-down of the CPU when arriving at Panda’s Thumb?

To know what ID’s algorithm would say about the skull, we have to examine the algorithm.

bool looksdesigned, isdesigned, hasCSI;

void main() { if (looksdesigned) { hasCSI=true; }

if (hasCSI) { isdesigned=true; } return 0; }

So what you do is, decide if something looks designed. if it does, it has CSI, and probably lots of it. Having CSI implies that it was designed, QED.

Steve, how about some indentation on that… ;)

a positive outcome.

You mean a negative outcome is an implosion? Ouch!

Please use the bathroom wall or after the bar closes for comments not relevant to these threads.

Karen Wrote:

This looks designed. The End.

Qualitative@Uncommondescent Wrote:

This dusty, old skull will be the nail in the coffin for natural philosophy. Clearly any intelligent designer would not have made a skull such as that. [/sarcasm]

Spookily accurate!

bool looksdesigned, isdesigned, hasCSI;

void main() { if (looksdesigned) { hasCSI=true; }

if (hasCSI) { isdesigned=true; } return 0; }

I C what you mean.

More like

external bool hasfunction();
external bool WeDontKnowHowHowItHappened();

void main() {
   bool isSpecified, isDesigned;
   if (hasfunction()) {
       isSpecified=true;
   }
   if (isSpecified&&isComplex) {
       isdesigned=true;
   }
return 0;
}
bool isComplex() {
   if (WeDontKnowHowHowItHappened()) {
      return 1;
   }
return 0;
}

Use <code> tag to indent

The previous is based on such statements by Dembski as

In an article by Richard John Neuhaus from First Things 121, March 2002, Neuhaus writes “With respect to the origin and complex development of life forms, clear thinking begins with recognizing what we do not know. Dembski puts it nicely: ‘An argument from ignorance is still better than a pipe dream in which you’re deluding yourself. I’m at least admitting to ignorance as opposed to pretending that you’ve solved the problem when you haven’t.’

and

Dembski Wrote:

As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering

There is really not much science involved when it comes to ID, in fact, I’d argue it is scientifically vacuous.

Dembski admits to being ignorant, then shuns those “pesky” details. How honest!

I don’t get this. Dembski admits to ignorance, then goes on and publishes books on the subject.

Dembski admits to being ignorant, then shuns those “pesky” details. How honest!

Short Bill Dembski: “I may not know about science, but I know what I like”.

I don’t get this. Dembski admits to ignorance, then goes on and publishes books on the subject.

No, unfortunately, you do get it.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 3, column 10, byte 90 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

To recap AIG’s view.

We don’t know what it is, but what we do know is that it is an evilutionist plot to undermine the good book and the good creator, thus, it is a bad thing.

What have scientists really found? Of course, a creationist researcher will not be allowed access to study this skull; creationists thus will have to rely on examining future scientific papers before making confident comments themselves (and not rely just on a news-release summary composed by the researchers in Ethiopia, which is sketchy). At the moment, AiG is largely commenting on second-hand reports until any scholarly paper is produced.

We may comment again after that research paper appears, but for the moment, we want to point out the cautious wording inside the news items that is lacking in some headlines.

So AIG, like PvM, is essentially saying “Let’s await the scientific publication of their findings.” I’m sure nobody disagrees with that advice in this forum.

But AIG is also pointing out an important media problem: that the cautious wording inside the news items ARE in fact lacking inside some of the headlines thereof, and the headlines ARE what people tend to remember the most.

It’s not about an “evilutionist plot”, it’s about people getting misled by misleading headlines, and I’m sure that’s something that even evolutionists would not want to support.

FL

The evolutionist plot stuff will come later. When the scientific claims are made in papers, then AiG will swing in with “these scientists are prejudiced by their evolutionary assumptions blah blah.” I actually stopped sending emails to AiG alerting them about these things, because their responses were so tedious and boring. The best Creationist Comedy these days is from Uncommonly Dense.

it’s about people getting misled by misleading headlines, and I’m sure that’s something that even evolutionists would not want to support.

“even” evolutionists?

But you’re right. Media coverage of these things is often pretty dumb. And even when the reporting is OK - at least in our newspaper - a cute play on words trumps accuracy every time when it comes to headline composition.

The fact that AiG might have a point in this case, though, is more a matter of a broken clock being right twice a day.

Credit: Sileshi Semaw/Stone Age Institute

Didn’t it use to be called Discovery Institute?

AiG Wrote:

Sadly, it’s the headlines that are most remembered

Like the unforgettable “Demise of Darwinism Imminent!”? Although it is true that press releases are often given headlines that are overly optimistic, regardless of what field they relate to.

It’s a lesson to all of us to look beyond the headlines and media hype to get the facts.

This is obviously just microevolution. Even after 250,000 years a hominid skull is still just a hominid skull.

If macroevolution were true, he would have found some other kind of skull instead, like maybe a saber-toothed tiger or a woolly mammoth.

“If macroevolution were true, he would have found some other kind of skull instead, like maybe a saber-toothed tiger or a woolly mammoth.”

You mean a “sabre-toothed man” don’t you?

Or maybe a Homo Rex.

So AIG, like PvM, is essentially saying “Let’s await the scientific publication of their findings.” I’m sure nobody disagrees with that advice in this forum.

But AIG is also pointing out an important media problem: that the cautious wording inside the news items ARE in fact lacking inside some of the headlines thereof, and the headlines ARE what people tend to remember the most.

It’s not about an “evilutionist plot”, it’s about people getting misled by misleading headlines, and I’m sure that’s something that even evolutionists would not want to support.

Yeah, right. We’ve all seen this movie before.

But speaking of scientific publication of their findings, where can we see some scientific publication of any findings made by ID or creation “science?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Gee, imagine that.

The AiG people have a previous statement on this as well. I found it at a different site

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-a[…]029.html#f13

As always, they give the impression that they’ve done their homework… Easy to see how someone desperate to preserve their faith in creationism would feel secure in this. I’m not familiar with all the literature, particularly the White papers cited here. Anyone else have a quick response as to where they’ve taken White out of context?

From Aig:

Of course, a creationist researcher will not be allowed access to study this skull

They have researchers?

I thought they know exactly what happened?

I can’t comment directly, but I am curious as to what alternative explanation they are offering up. After all, Genesis does not go into this level of detail.

AIG: “Sadly, it’s the headlines that are most remembered, and now many more people around the world will believe that a “missing link” has been found, one which supports the agenda of secular evolutionists who want to show that man is not created specially by God and thus His Word in Genesis is not reliable.”

Umm, seems they conflate secular and militant atheism here. That evolution falsifies their story isn’t science fault. Bad Answer!

FL wrote:It’s not about an “evilutionist plot”, it’s about people getting misled by misleading headlines, and I’m sure that’s something that even evolutionists would not want to support.

Well, did you read the AIG article to the end? It says:

and now many more people around the world will believe that a “missing link” has been found, one which supports the agenda of secular evolutionists who want to show that man is not created specially by God and thus His Word in Genesis is not reliable.

KP posted a link to an article from:

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c029.h

It was written by Dr. Marvin L Lubenow. I went to the DI’s list of scientists who dissent from Darwinian Evolution. I cudda missed it …but I didn’t see his name listed. …hmmmm????

Of course, a creationist researcher will not be allowed access to study this skull

They have researchers?

I assume they mean a Bible scholar. With a degree in public relations.

One thing really bothers me with this kind of reporting… and it appears in the associated press release as well.

The releases uses the word “ancestor”; and that is one thing that simply cannot ever be concluded from the kinds of evidence available in fossils. Even if we were able to extract DNA from the fossil – and I see no prospect of that – we could not conclude “ancestor”.

Make no mistake; I am an evolutionist through and through, and I consider that fossil evidence is overwhelming support for evolutionary models. This new fossil is not significant because it can prove evolution; that has long since been the only credible model fitting evidence, and is by now pretty much as solidly established as any scientific model ever gets.

The significance of new finds like this is that it does shed new light on the evolutionary development of humanity, and of our encestors. I suppose it is easy to get that across by calling this fossil an “ancestor”, and it makes a good headline. But it’s wrong, and I think that is a great pity.

The details of our ancestry are not revealed by exhibiting remains known to be ancestral. Rather, new fossils are remains that fit into a large set of branching lineages, filled with parallel lines and dead ends. The patterns of similarity and difference in available fossils, together with information as to their age, tells us a lot about the overall patterns in our family tree, and hence of our ancestors. How you make this distinction in a sound bite, I don’t know.

One thing really bothers me with this kind of reporting… and it appears in the associated press release as well.

The releases uses the word “ancestor”; and that is one thing that simply cannot ever be concluded from the kinds of evidence available in fossils. Even if we were able to extract DNA from the fossil — and I see no prospect of that — we could not conclude “ancestor”.

Indeed. It may perhaps help to make a distinction between a “geneological ancestor” and a “morphological ancestor”.

Early hominids were a wide-spread and varied group. We may never be able to determine which of them is our specific geneological ancestor. Indeed, we may never even FIND our specific genoeological ancestor – and I don’t see any way to recognize it even if we did.

It’s a bit like saying, “OK, we know that the Aztecs are descendents of the Toltecs, but WHICH TOLTEC ARE THEY DESCENDED FROM?”

How could you even answer that question?

I’m sure the fundies will fall all over themselves to make hay of that, though.

Chris, Maybe if they said “close relative of our ancestors” intead of just “ancestor”? Would that work?

Henry

Well, its’ like the cladists say – the most we can do is say that X and Y were “closely related” or “share a recent common ancestor”. We simply can’t say that one was the “ancestor” of the other.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on March 26, 2006 3:00 AM.

Threats to Judge Jones and “Challenges” Teaser was the previous entry in this blog.

Discovery’s Crowther: Spaghetti Monster Gets More Attention than ID’s “Robust” Scientific Research Program is the next entry in this blog.

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