The History Channel, taking a break from their standard formula of 70% World War II coverage, 20% Civil War, and 10% other, has been heavily promoting a new series called “Ape to Man.” The series is going to be about “The Search for the Missing Link”, which is already a bad sign, since (1) evolution is a bush, not a linear ladder, (2) there are, if anything, many “missing links” that could be found for any group, not just one, (3) in human evolution, a great many of the “links” have been found, whether or not any individual hominid fossil is from a population ancestral to modern humans, or from a closely-related side-branch (it is usually impossible to tell, although within Homo there is such a continuum of gradual changes up to modern humans in the known fossils that, IMHO, some of those fossils probably really are directly ancestral populations to Homo sapiens).
Much of the promotional material also appears to be playing off the current political controversy in the U.S. If this is just trying to get more viewers, great, but if they put clueless sops into the show for the creationists, then I plan to throw my shoe at the TV.
Hopefully the “missing link” stuff is just promotional fluff from the marketing department. The history of paleoanthropology, which is supposed to be the focus in addition to the paleontology, is indeed a topic worthy of a History Channel documentary. So, I plan to give them the benefit of the doubt to start with.
I always find these graphics useful to keep around, if you have any plans to debate the creationists who have apparently invaded the History Channel boards. With hominid evolution, creationists almost universally argue via quotes and bias arguments, and avoid images of the fossils and quantitative analyses as much as possible.
The Fossils Hominids FAQ and especially the comparison of creationist classifications of hominid skulls is a must-read.
The first show is Sunday night. If you happen to see it, post your comments here.
PS: My bet: the History Channel will find a way to insert their Hitler footage into this topic also.