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Human evolution
A long way from Darwin and Wallace
– or is it?
Colin Groves
School of Archaeology & Anthropology
Australian National University
Light will be thrown on the origin of
man and his history. - Darwin, 1859. On the
Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the
Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
Darwin’s insights about human
relationships and evolution
infectious diseases
anatomical changes
adaptive radiation
technological advances
Man is liable to receive from the lower animals,
and to communicate to them, certain diseases,
as hydrophobia, variola, the glanders, syphilis,
cholera, herpes, &c. - Darwin, 1871. The Descent of Man and
Selection in Relation to Sex. (p.8)
Examples of infectious diseases shared between humans and many
nonhuman primates:
Amoebiasis (Entamoeba spp.)
Non-tuberculous Mycobacterium spp.
Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis)
Hemorrhagic Fever
Viral Hepatitis
Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpesvirus B
Measles (Morbillivirus)
Sarcoptes scabiei
Shigella spp.
Monkeypox (Orthopoxvirus)
Tularemia (Francisella tularensis)
Dengue (Flavivirus)
Campylobacter spp.
Yellow Fever (Flavivirus)
The [human] embryo itself at a very early period can hardly
be distinguished from that of other members of the
vertebrate kingdom. - Darwin, 1871. The Descent of Man and Selection
in Relation to Sex. (p.12)
Human embryo
Cat embryo
As the progenitors of man became more and more erect, with their
hands and arms more and more modified for prehension and other
purposes, with their feet and legs at the same time transformed
for firm support and progression, endless other changes of
structure would become necessary. The pelvis would have to be
broadened, the spine peculiarly curved, and the head fixed in an
altered position, all which changes have been attained by man. Darwin, 1871. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. (p.79)
the spine peculiarly curved, and the
head fixed in an altered position
the pelvis broadened,
the legs transformed for firm support
Darwin, 1871. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex :
We are naturally led to enquire, where was the birthplace of man at that
stage of descent when our progenitors diverged from the Catarrhine
The fact that they belonged to this stock clearly shews that they
inhabitated the Old World; but not Australia nor any oceanic island, as we
may infer from the laws of geographical distribution.
In each great region of the world the living mammals are closely related
to the extinct species of the same region.
It is therefore probable that Africa was formerly inhabited by extinct apes
closely allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee; and as these two species are
now man's nearest allies, it is somewhat more probable that our early
progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere.
Phylogeny of catarrhine primates, with
molecular clock dating
Old World Monkeys
Pongo pygmaeus
Pongo abelii
8-10 Ma
6-7 Ma
Gorilla gorilla
G. g. gorilla
G. g. diehli
Gorilla beringei
G. b. beringei
G. b. graueri
Pan troglodytes
P. t. verus
P. t. vellerosus
P. t. troglodytes
P. t. schweinfurthii
P. t. marungensis
Pan paniscus
Homo sapiens
According to Darwin’s argument, this area
should (parsimoniously) also be yellow
P. p. pygmaeus
P. p. wurmbii
P. p. morio
The fossil record:
between the time of the
separation of the gorilla line
and the separation of the
chimpanzee and human lines,
almost all relevant fossils*are
Except this one:
closely related to Graecopithecus
*although there
are not many!
• Remember, if you will, that there is
no existing link between Man and
the Gorilla, but do not forget that
there is a no less sharp line of
demarcation, a no less complete
absence of any transitional form,
between the Gorilla and the Orang,
or the Orang and the Gibbon.
• - Huxley, T. H. 1863. On the relations of man to the
lower animals. Man's Place in Nature. Reprinted in
Man's Place in Nature and other Anthropological
Essays, 1890 (p. 145).
Hugh Falconer in 1864 popularises
this “Missing Link”
• An unusual human skull had been discovered in
Forbes’ Quarry, Gibraltar, in 1848.
• The palaeontologist Falconer, a friend of Darwin,
examined it in 1864, and found it to be similar to the
skull discovered in the Neanderthal, Germany, in
• In a letter to a relative (published posthumously in
1868), he wrote:
• If you hear any remarks made, you may say from
me, that I do not regard this priscan pithecoid
man as the "missing link" so to speak. It is a
case of a very low type of humanity -- very low
and savage, and of extreme antiquity -- but still
man, and not a halfway step between man and
Now there are links:
the “pre-australopithecines”: early members of
the human lineage
Ardipithecus kadabba – 5.8-5.2 Ma
Relative canine length
– long thin
Ardipithecus and
australopithecines-short fat canines
Reduction of
canines over
Orrorin tugenensis – 5.9-6.0 Ma
Ardipithecus ramidus – 4.4 Ma
Another principle, which may be called the principle of
divergence, plays, I believe, an important part in the
origin of species. The same spot will support more life
if occupied by very diverse forms. - Darwin, 1858. Abstract of a
Letter from C. Darwin, Esq, to Prof.Asa Gray, Boston, US, dated Down, September 5th,
1857. Proceedings of the Linnean Society 3:52.
Homo habilis
From 4 Ma until about 1 Ma, there were always at least two hominin species
sympatric in East Africa:
4-3: Australopithecus afarensis – Kenyanthropus platyops
3-2.5: Australopithecus garhi – Paranthropus walkeri
2.5-2.0: Paranthropus walkeri – Homo rudolfensis –Homo cf.habilis
2.0-1.5: Paranthropus boisei – Homo habilis – Homo ergaster
1.5-1.0: Paranthropus boisei –Homo cf.ergaster
Homo ergaster
The human fossil record:
cranial capacity
(proxy for brain size)
• From at least 4 until nearly 2
million years ago, the
members of the human
lineage, known informally as
australopithecines, had
small (ape-sized) cranial 1500
capacities (ECV)
• From then until nearly the
present day, cranial
capacities increased
continuously (via “habilines”
and “erectines” to “sapients”500
-- the genus Homo)
• Only the so-called “robust
australopithecines” (the
Million years
genus Paranthropus)
continued with small cranial
The human fossil record:
jaws and teeth
• The australopithecines had
large molars and premolars,
prominent jaws and receding
mandibular symphysis, but
reduced canines
• From about 2 million years ago,
successive species of the genus
Homo reduced the size of their
jaws and teeth, and the
mandibular symphysis became
more vertical, eventually
protruding as a Chin
The human fossil record:
• Australopithecines had Scurved vertebral column,
valgus knee, and low wide
pelvis, but funnel-shaped
(ape-like) thorax and short
• Homo ergaster had barrelshaped thorax and
elongated legs
Psychology will be based on new foundation, that of the necessary
acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. - Darwin,
1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
“Mental powers and capacities” now known to be exhibited by
chimpanzees, hence inferred for the common ancestor of
chimpanzees and humans, 6-7 Ma
First documented for habilines, 2 Ma
simple stone toolmaking, activity bases, meat scavenging
First documented for erectines, 1.5-2 Ma
simple toolmaking, use of stone tools, self-recognition, symbolic
communication, fission-fusion social organisation, community territory,
food sharing, social learning
first dispersal out of Africa (or was it? – Georgia, Pakistan, Java), fire
(controversial), “mental template” technology (not until 1.4 Ma), big
game hunting (probably late in the record)
First documented for early sapients, 100 Ka?
composite toolmaking, standing structures, water transport (settlement
of Australia, 50 Ka), language (presumed), burial, art
The first appearance of the human
clade outside Africa, ± 1.7 million
Homo georgicus
Dmanisi, Georgia
Homo erectus
Sangiran and Mojokerto, Java
The second appearance of the human
clade outside Africa, >1.2 million
Atapuerca, Spain and Ceprano, Italy
Homo antecessor
Lantien and Zhoukoudian, China
Homo pekinensis
The third appearance of the human
clade outside Africa, ± 600,000
Mauer, Germany
Arago, France
Atapuerca, Spain
Dali and Jinniushan, China
Hathnora, India
The origin of Homo sapiens
• Florisbad, South Africa 260ka
• Omo/Kibish, Ethiopia 195ka
• Jebel Irhoud, Morocco 160ka
• Herto, Ethiopia 160ka
• Skhul , Israel 100-120ka
• Qafzeh, Israel 100-120ka
The recency of the spread of Homo
sapiens out of Africa and the Levant
 China:
Liujiang, 67,000 (controversial)
 Australia:
 Malakunanja and Nawalibila, 50,000
 archaeological deposits only
 Europe:
 Pestera cu Oase, 34-36,000
The human world at about 50,000 BP
Homo neanderthalensis
descended from Homo
Homo sapiens
Descended from Homo
Homo erectus
Still there!
Homo floresiensis
Descended from Homo
habilis ?
The recency of modern human spread implies that all
modern humans are very much alike
19th-century Europeans were taught that other races were inferior
Darwin and Wallace reported, admittedly with some surprise, that they are not
[Savages] possess a mental organ beyond their needs. Natural
Selection could only have endowed savage man with a brain a little
superior to that of an ape, whereas he actually possesses one very
little inferior to that of a philosopher.
Wallace, 1870. Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection: A
Series of Essays.
He thought that this meant that the human mind could not have evolved by
natural selection.
The American aborigines, Negroes and Europeans are as different
from each other in mind as any three races that can be named; yet
I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Fuegians on board
the "Beagle", with the many little traits of character, shewing how
similar their minds were to ours; and so it was with a full-blooded
negro with whom I happened once to be intimate.
Darwin, 1871. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex.
He wrote The Descent of Man in some haste, as he feared that Wallace had
done some damage to their joint “child”.
• Wallace drew his
famous “Division of
Indo-Malayan and
Regions” as a result
of his work in island
Southeast Asia
• He noted that the
“Division between
Malayan and
Polynesian [sic]
Races” lies further
to the east
• “The maritime
enterprise and
higher civilisation of
the Malay races
have enabled them
to overrun a portion
of the adjacent
region, in which
they have entirely
supplanted the
Wallace, 1869. The
Malay Archipelago.
Every major discovery in
human evolution has been
stoutly resisted
Every major new fossil has
been disparaged
discovered by Johannes Fuhlrott in 1856
All these characters are compatible with the Neanderthal skeleton having
belonged to some poor idiot or hermit…
This flexure [of the thighbone] is not normal, and is observable, like the
inward flexure of the tuberosities of the ischial bones, in those who have been
riders from their youth up.
[It was a Mongolian Cossack of Chernichev’s army chasing the retreating French in 1814]
A. F. Mayer, 1864
The individual in question had in his childhood suffered from a mild degree of
rickets, and then returned to health and activity, interrupted by considerable
damage to the skull, from which he fortunately recovered but which resulted
in later Arthritis deformans along with the changes due to old age.
C. Carter Blake, 1861
Rudolph Virchow, 1872
Huxley’s response:
 It could be and it was suggested that the Neanderthal skeleton was that of
a strayed idiot; that the characters of the skull were the result of early
synostosis or of late gout; and, in fact, any stick was good enough to beat
the dog withal.
Huxley, T. H. 1890. The Aryan question and prehistoric man. The Nineteenth Century,
November, 1890. Reprinted in Man's Place in Nature and other Anthropological Essays,
discovered by Eugene Dubois in 1891 (the first Homo erectus from Java)
 The fossil cranium described by Dubois is
unquestionably to be regarded as human.
Daniel Cunningham, 1895
 A giant gibbon… According to all the rules of
classification, this creature was an animal, to
wit, an ape.
Rudolph Virchow, 1895
Australopithecus africanus
discovered by Raymond Dart in 1924
… on the evidence now produced one is inclined to
place Australopithecus in the same group or subfamily as the chimpanzee and gorilla.
Sir Arthur Keith, 1925
I see nothing… definitely nearer to the human
condition than the corresponding parts of the skull of
a modern chimpanzee.
Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, 1925
Australopithecus… appears to be only a dwarfed
Ernst Schwarz, 1934
… and, by then, the religious
fringe had become aware of
• Dart is
• sitting on the brink of the
eternal abyss of flame
• Dart will
• roast in the general fires of Hell
• Dart’s punishment will be
• being unblessed with a family
which looks like this hideous
monster with the hideous name
Homo floresiensis
Discovered by Thomas Sutikna, Mike
Morwood and their colleagues in 2004
LB1 is drawn from an earlier pygmy Homo sapiens
population but individually shows signs of a
developmental abnormality, including microcephaly
– Teuku Jacob et al., 2006
LB1 could well be a microcephalic Homo sapiens
– Robert D. Martin et al, 2006
The remains represent a variant of H. sapiens possessing
a combined growth hormone – insulin-like growth factor I
axis modification and mutation of the MCPH gene family
– Gary D. Richards, 2006
We hypothesize that these individuals are myxoedematous
endemic (ME) cretins, part of an inland population of
(mostly unaffected) Homo sapiens
– Peter Obendorf et al., 2008
And of course the
It seems much simpler and more consistent to accept that these were descendants of Adam,
part of the post-Babel dispersion.
Carl Wieland, Soggy dwarf bones
…creationists understand that there are some differences between modern man and the
ancient skeleton, and that this is just another example of God's creativity in designing people.
Ken Ham (interviewed by Mary Rettig), Creationism May Explain Skeletal Remains Better Than Darwinism
This should cause Christians to assert without embarrassment that the little people of Flores
were human beings, descendants of Adam, bearing the image of God. They were smaller than
us, but we have encountered pygmy groups before. We can also argue on the basis of biblical
revelation that they probably lived much more recently than the archeologists tell us.
FIRST-PERSON: Dragon-slaying Hobbits and biblical truth (Russell D. Moore, Baptist Press, Nov 11, 2004)
This is just another example of the hurriedness of evolutionists to accept a fossil that would
prove evolution without checking out the facts completely. You see this in the already debunked
Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Lucy, and others.
Pro Rege Papers: A Journal Exploring Biblical Thought Concerning Various Subjects
Tom Huxley,
where are you
now that we
need you?