When I was twelve, my hero was Albert Einstein. I was the ultimate sickly nerd in Junior High, so I pursued more cerebral subjects, such as evolution. I tried to read Darwin’s Origin of the Species when I was 13 ( I got through 3 or 4 chapters – very difficult for a 13 yr old to understand). I tried to come up with an explanation of fossils and evolutionary evidence with the Genesis account of creation. As a tenth grader I argued against evolution with my Biology teacher.
I have studied the issues just enough to conclude I don’t know very much. I will affirm that I believe the literal Genesis Account of Creation. In our finite minds we have no conception of the Power of God Speaking. I do believe the issue of what you believe must begin with the belief that God is our Creator God, active, loving, all-powerful and Sovereign. To accept the Theory of Evolution as fact is to deny all of that.
With the 150 year anniversary of Darwin’s book comes the exciting revelation of a new skeleton discovered in 1992. It has taken this long to analyze her. (They do it in a matter of minutes on CSI).
Science Magazine just today released a special issue on Ardi with research papers that go into great depth on the significance of this discovery.
I was reading through some of the abstracts when I read something quite amazing. The paper is titled: “Reexamining Human Origins in Light of Ardipithecus ramidus” by C. Owen Lovejoy. (Department of Anthropology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Kent State University)
This is what caught my eye:
Referential models based on extant African apes have dominated reconstructions of early human evolution since Darwin’s time. These models visualize fundamental human behaviors as intensifications of behaviors observed in living chimpanzees and/or gorillas (for instance, upright feeding, male dominance displays, tool use, culture, hunting, and warfare). Ardipithecus essentially falsifies such models, because extant apes are highly derived relative to our last common ancestors. Moreover, uniquely derived hominid characters, especially those of locomotion and canine reduction, appear to have emerged shortly after the hominid/chimpanzee divergence. Hence, Ardipithecus provides a new window through which to view our clade’s earliest evolution and its ecological context. Early hominids and extant apes are remarkably divergent in many cardinal characters. We can no longer rely on homologies with African apes for accounts of our origins and must turn instead to general evolutionary theory. A proposed adaptive suite for the emergence of Ardipithecus from the last common ancestor that we shared with chimpanzees accounts for these principal ape/human differences, as well as the marked demographic success and cognitive efflorescence of later Plio-Pleistocene hominids.
An essential goal of human evolutionary studies is to account for human uniqueness, most notably our bipedality, marked demographic success, unusual reproductive physiology, and unparalleled cerebral and technological abilities. During the past several decades, it has been routinely argued that these hominid characters have evolved by simple modifications of homologs shared with our nearest living relatives, the chimpanzee and bonobo…
Without a true early hominid fossil record, the de facto null hypothesis has been that Australopithecus was largely a bipedal manifestation of an African ape (especially the chimpanzee). Such proxy-based scenarios have been elevated to common wisdom…
Ardipithecus ramidus now reveals that the early hominid evolutionary trajectory differed profoundly from those of our ape relatives from our clade’s very beginning…
In retrospect, clues to this vast divide between the evolutionary trajectories of African apes and hominids have always been present. Apes are largely inept at walking upright. They exhibit reproductive behavior and anatomy profoundly unlike those of humans. African ape males have retained (or evolved, see below) a massive SCC and exhibit little or no direct investment in their offspring (their reproductive strategies rely primarily on varying forms of male-to-male agonism). Although they excel at some cognitive tasks, they perform at levels qualitatively similar to those of some extraordinary birds (29, 30) and mammals (31). The great apes are an isolated, uniquely specialized relict species surviving today only by their occupation of forest refugia (32). Even their gut structure differs substantially from that of humans (33).
How and why did such profound differences between hominids and African apes evolve? Why did early hominids become the only primate to completely eliminate the SCC? Why did they become bipedal, a form of locomotion with virtually no measurable mechanical advantage (34)? Why did body-size dimorphism increase in their likely descendants? These are now among the ultimate questions of human evolution. We can, of course, only hypothesize their answers. Nevertheless, by illuminating the likely morphological structure and potential social behavior of the CLCA, Ar. ramidus now confirms that extant African ape–based models are no longer appropriate.
It seems to me that “ARDI” is telling us that we did not descend from African APES! They have to come up with a new evolutionary model for the origin of hominids (you and me).
But what about the Evolution Theatre display at the the Smithsonian? I was just there meeting some of my monkey relatives! I hope ARDI sets them straight!
Ardi is my kind of gal. She tells it like it is. Regardless of your views on evolution, God wants us humans to know that He created us unlike any other animal or creature. We were made in HIS IMAGE, and when you discover that, it will change your view of life and your purpose for living.