The Fruitless Search
for the Missing Link
(Investigator 49, 1996 July)
If naturalistic non-life to human life evolution is true, multi-billions of links are necessary to bridge modern humans with the chemicals in some primitive "soup" found in the ocean or mud puddles which are assumed to have given birth to life some 3.5 billion years ago. These multi-billions of kinds of links would also be a prominent part of the fossil record. All animal types that ever existed would each be a link; all animal ancestors would each be a link to another type. And multi-millions more links are needed to connect humans with our primitive ape-like ancestors that are hypothesized to have existed long ago.
When evolutionists discuss the 'missing link' problem, they imply that only a few links are missing in what is a rather complete chain from chemicals to humans. Standen noted that the term "missing link" is actually a most misleading phrase because it suggests that only one link is missing. It would be more accurate to say that the greater part of the entire chain is missing, so that it is not evident whether there ever was a chain at all (Standen, 1950:106, emphasis mine).
Scientists have not been able to find a single undisputed link that clearly connects any two of the hundreds of major family groups, nor have they even been able to produce the starting point to begin their hypothetical evolutionary chain reaction (Shapiro, 1986). The first link – which is actually the biggest gap by far – is a missing link!
The millions of modern fossils discovered have, as a whole, not resulted in filling in links, but have created the need for even more links. When one sees skeletons arranged according to their outward appearance, from fish to humans, the gaps seemingly are few and far between; but when the whole animal world is carefully examined, unbridgeable gaps are consistently found everywhere. With each new discovery the genealogical tree becomes more complicated, until, instead of exhibiting fossils that connect groups, it increasingly resembles a large set of isolated dots as more and more new groups are found that need to be connected.
Nevertheless, evolutionary naturalism must infer humankind's relationship to an ape past (or, as it is often put, humans and the "apes" have a common ancestor) and this belief requires link ancestors. Often included in the series shown in popular magazines are chimpanzees and apes, although most scientists now believe that these modern animals do not belong in humans' direct ancestry.
Further, it is difficult to draw many firm conclusions from findings limited to a tooth here, a leg bone there, and a skull fragment found yet somewhere else, all of which must be assumed to have belonged to one animal, and from which are constructed entire families of hunting "apemen."
Given this scattered, fragmentary, controversial evidence, it is almost impossible to determine much for certain about most extinct creatures. Lewin (1987) convincingly argues that determining what fossils are "hominid" or which are transitional between humans and their alleged primate ancestors' fossils is exceedingly difficult. If evolution were true, though, what we would expect to find in the fossil record would be hundreds of thousands of transitional types. Research on human evolution has increasingly supported the conclusion that many putative transition fossils are clearly a fully human race such as the Neanderthals, or an extinct or modern type of primate, and virtually all fall quite comfortably in these two categories.
Moreover, those animals found which do appear to be in between other types cannot be proven to be in fact links. Even if a fossil skeleton were exactly intermediate between humans and our hypothetical primate ancestors, this would not prove that the fossil was in fact a human evolutionary ancestor. To prove the latter requires a knowledge of history, specifically what animal begat which progeny, information which is not possible without personal or reliable direct knowledge of the breeding generations.
Even if an exactly intermediate skeleton type were discovered, this would at best prove only that an organism intermediate between humans and monkeys existed in the past, and would in no way prove that humans specifically descended from that primate. Although a naturalistic interpretation would cause one to accept that conclusion, it is, nonetheless, not a proved conclusion. In the words of Fischman, referring to a bacterium found in ancient amber that some claim is an evolutionary link because it is somewhat morphologically and genetically in between two other types, the:Ancient and modern microbes could belong to different strains of B sphaericus...so you can't claim that the modern gene derived from the ancient one, much less conclude anything about the time it takes for such changes to occur. 'Unless you know this organism is a specific ancestor, you can't say anything. This is a wonderful testament to longevity, but any estimate of evolutionary rates is ill-conceived' (1995:1061).
The Many Fossils Which Were Claimed To Be Missing Links
For years, one of the most famous links in human evolution was "Java Man," scientifically called Pithecanthropus erectus, which means "erect-walkiing ape-man."
In 1891 Dubois discovered a few skull fragments and some teeth in the river gravel along the bank of the Solo River in Java. Later he located a femur leg bone at a point fifty feet distant. Concluding that they came from the same animal, he built from these fragments a creation that he called Java man, and for years it was referred to as pithecanthropus erectus. In Lewin's words, most experts later determined that the skull fragment and femur did not belong to the same individual (1987:23). The skull was from a Neanderthal like race, and the femur bone was human, and the circumstances of their discovery indicated that they came from different animals. At any rate, the fossil record in this case is so problematic that it is difficult to draw any conclusions whatsoever from it.
In their enthusiasm to prove evolution, scientists have often grasped at straws which turned out to be false. One of the more famous – so well known that it earned a place in the Crime and Punishment Encyclopedia – is the Piltdown hoax. Charles Dawson, an antiquary solicitor (a low level lawyer) and amateur geologist, was reportedly walking near the Sussex, England, village of Piltdown. He claimed that he came across some workers digging up a road and scattered about were pieces of brown flint. Dawson later reminisced that he felt that the site might be rich in fossils, and so he told the workers to contact him if they found any bones.
He later claimed that the men did find some "old bones" and four years later, on December 18, 1912, Dawson introduced what became known as the Piltdown man to the world of evolution. The evidence consisted of skull fragments, a jawbone, and a single tooth. The Piltdown brain capacity was at first estimated to be about half-way in between that of humans and apes, but later more detailed research found that its brain size was actually 1,400 cubic centimeters, a little larger than the residents of Piltdown today.
The geological society of Burlington House of London was the first to meet the new gentleman, now called Eoanthropus Dawsoni in honor of Dawson. The skull, the noted scientists were told, was pieced together from fragments which were found in the Piltdown site. They concluded the fragments had been there since the Pleistocene era (roughly around the last ice age).
Many scientists – and much of the world – were elated by the discovery. Here, for the first time, was seen as clear proof of human evolution a creature which bridged the gap between us and monkeys, which was neither a monkey nor a human. It became the basis for ideas about the so-called "missing links" discovered since then. A close associate of Dawson, Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, then head of the geology department at the British Museum, was enthusiastic about the find and added at this historic meeting that, in addition to the human material, traces of elephant, mastodon, rhino, hippo, deer, beaver, and horse were also found nearby.
With the support of this eminent scientist's reputation, it was easy to convince many of the experts that a valuable and unique find had been made. And to increase Dawson's credibility, an eminent clergyman, Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest who was then teaching at a seminary in Hastings, was pleased to help Dawson with the digs – and delighted to uncover another part of the missing link, a canine tooth.
With the church on his side, and further discoveries to come, major challenges against Dawson's find were then unlikely. The renown of Piltdown man was not restricted to Britain. Replicas of the famous skull were reproduced from the priceless original (which was kept safe in the British Museum) and found their way to museums, schools, colleges, and other places throughout the world.
To some creationists and critical scientists, though, something did not seem right. Although they often kept their feeling to themselves, they felt that the jaw seemed too much like a perfect ape jaw, and the cranium too much like a perfect Anglo-Saxon human cranium; nor did the two seem to "belong" together.
Finally, in 1949, British geologist Kenneth Oakley, who evidently had some questions about the Piltdown find, read a paper written 1892 by the French scientist, Carnot. Carnot demonstrated in this paper that the flourine content of the bone increases with age. Thus, by determining the flourine content, one can estimate the age of previously living bone. With this new knowledge, Dr. Oakley decided he would test the famous Piltdown skull. The flourine content which Oakley found showed that the Piltdown man had made a monkey out of everyone. According to this technique, he was less than 10,000, not up to 500,000 years old as claimed. This raised serious questions as to exactly what the Piltdown find was.
The skull is now known to be a modern human, and the jaw and tooth both belonged to a recently deceased chimpanzee. The result was an animal that could not breathe or eat very well (Spencer, 1990). These conclusions were published in the 1953 British museum bulletin by Dr. Oakley and two scientific collaborators in a paper entitled "The Solution of the Piltdown Problem." The paper concluded that the jaw was probably that of a young orangutan and the canine tooth has been filed down to the proper shape, stained, and impregnated with grains of sand so as to "imitate" fossilization.
In light of this background, an account of the fossil written in 1948 is enormously revealing about the tendency to jump from a small amount of data to sweeping conclusions:
Piltdown man, long considered one of mankind's oldest ancestors, is a mere anthropological infant, not more than 10,000 years old, Dr. Oakley of the British Museum disclosed to the British Association for the Advancement of Science… Previously considered to be between 100,000 and 500,000 years old, the jawbone and skull are now proved by analysis of their flourine content to be definitely of the last glacial period. Fossil animal bones of known geological age, dating from the Pleistocene or glacial period, unearthed nearby the human bones at Piltdown, England, had the same content of the chemical flourine picked up from the ground water of the locality (Stafford, 1948:85).The scientific world was stunned by this revelation because one of the most important proofs of evolution had turned out to be a monstrous hoax. The only question remaining was, Who was the culprit? Blame first fell on Charles Dawson, the discoverer. This question was difficult to research then, for he had been dead for thirty-seven years. And, too, certain facts argued that he was not the forger. Blame was also placed on Teilhard de Chardin, the famous Catholic priest who is well-known for his religion of evolution and his research on the evolutionary origins of humans. The researchers concluded from the evidence that they obtained that the distinguished paleontologists and archeologists who originally took part in the investigations of Piltdown were either the perpetrators or the victims of a carefully planned hoax. Since then a number of other possibilities have surfaced, but none of them have resulted in conclusive evidence. Thus, it still remains a mystery, an unsolved hoax.
Many other fossils have also fallen from grace. The Heidelberg man fossil (called by some Mauer Mandible) is now classified as an Archaic Homo Sapien, and is no longer considered anything but a race of modern humans (Fix, 1984). His jaw is similar to that found among the Eskimos of today. In China, evolutionists once thought a set of fossils called Sinanthropis, commonly termed Peking or Java man, were a clear link, but all we have left are the casts (the original bones mysteriously disappeared) and many people including Eskimos, Bushmen, and Veddas living in Sri Lanka today (formerly called Ceylon) are very similar. Discovered by Eugene Dubois, its status as a human ancestor, Fix claims, is "highly questionable" (1984: p.xii).
Dryopithecus (dri oh pith ah kas – Gr. drys tree, pithecus ape) is now recognized as an extinct anthropoid ape of the Europe, Africa and Asia late Miocene and Pliocene. Ramapithecus (ra mah pith ah kas), a primate similar to Kenyapithecus, originally discovered in the Siwalik Hills of northwestern India is also an extinct ape (Johnson and Edey, 1981; Johnson and Shreeve, 1989).
Neanderthal man is another race long held to be some sort of link, but is now known to fall within the varieties of present-day humans. They also are no longer considered an evolutionary ancestor of humans, but another "race" that were either massacred by their fellow humans during some war or feud or intermarried and thus blended in with us long ago.
[This comment on Neanderthals may be out of date. Since 1996 Neanderthals have been considered to be genetically unrelated to modern humans. See the debate about Adam and Neanderthals also on this website – Ed.]
A major requirement to prove evolution is the existence of, not four or five animal links, but a series of thousands of intermediate types between our alleged primate ancestors and modern humans. Ironically, the arguments, though, invariably focus on whether a certain fossil discovery is a human or an ape, causing researchers to dichotomize according to the stasis assumption. A relatively small number of fossils have been discovered, most of which are extremely damaged and distorted by time, and consequently interpretation is very difficult; the extremely limited evidence is what produces the endless debates and disagreements in this field (Lewin, 1987). This is even true for relatively well preserved fossils such as Lucy, the most complete alleged human fossil ancestors discovered to date and only 40% of the skeleton has been recovered.
Many evolutionary scientists recognize the problems of these so-called missing links. As the geological record now stands, we cannot trace modern humans back to any extinct types. A requirement of naturalism is that human evolution from lower primates occurred and therefore the fossils uncovered must be evidence for evolution and no other interpretation can be considered. Lewin also makes it very clear that in the past "racism of a particularly pure, intellectual form was a persistent theme of American and British anthropology" (1987, p. 55).
Many scientists simply have concluded that so called ape-men found in Africa and other places, such as Australopithecus and Pithecanthropines, are non-human extinct primates and are not ancestors to humans. Many extinct primate bones have been found by the Leakey family and others, some of which they argue are evidence of the so called missing link. The significance of one set, the famous Chimp-like "Lucy" bones (Australopithecus afarensis) discovered a few years ago is still being debated and may be parts of several types of animals. Called Homo habilis (homo hab ah las) which is Latin for "skilful man," the fossil remains of this extinct species were discovered in the Olduvai Gorge, Tanganyika, in 1964. It was felt that research on these latest Homo habilis fossils, a species that lived m Africa "almost two million years ago," would at last "settle the dispute that this is an older human fossil than Telanthropus," yet the controversy is as strident as ever. The modern division into several groups is still controversial (Fix, 1984).
The fact is, as Lewin and the authorities that he quotes admit, "virtually all of our theories about human origins were relatively unconstrained by fossil data" and this is still often true today. This problem was well put in the conclusion that many human evolution "theories are...fossil-free or in some cases even fossil-proof" (1987, p. 43).
Erich Wasmann long ago wrote that the hypothetical pedigree of man is not supported by a single fossil genus or a single fossil species. And Professor Virchow declared that the apeman has no existence and the missing link remains a phantom. And Smithsonian Institution biologist Dr. Austin Clark concluded that all of the extant "missing links are misinterpretations" (Funk, 1929, p. 27).
The enormous level of controversy in this area vividly illustrates both the importance of preconceived ideas, and the sparceness of evidence, all of which is open to numerous interpretations. The conflicts and ego that researchers have invested in their work in this field are legion; in Lewin's words, many scientists possess their ideas as a jealous lover, and regard one who disagrees with their interpretations as a personal enemy (1987, p. 23). A major drawback of the field is that the arguments, debates, and endless squabbling among paleontologists becomes increasingly tedious after a while and the controversies soon become very tiresome.
Evolutionists will generally admit that all humans descended from one original type because they cannot point to even one essential clear difference in the human races. The only differences are non-essential superficial traits such as skin color, facial variations and different gene frequencies of many traits. Hence, Chase said:The story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis has been vindicated, in part at least, by science. Its main point is now generally accepted as true: namely, that there is only one human family…with a common origin (1948:30).Actually, much evidence exists for the position that humans are de-evolving, or are less fit and more imperfect today than in the pastHuman remains have been disinterred by anthropologists, almost certainly pre-FIood, having characteristics that indicate longevity far greater than anything we can at present conceive. The most striking indication is the extraordinary way in which the teeth are worn right down into their sockets by long usage… Actually there is ample secular evidence to show that there once existed on this earth of ours a race of men of magnificent physique, splendidly muscled, with a brain capacity exceeding that of modern man, and having all the signs of extreme longevity (Mackintosh, 1946, p. 342).In contrast to evolution's teaching that humans evolved from some primitive ape-like animal, no evidence exists for the evolution of human speech from grunts and growls to our present complex level of speech:…older forms of the languages known today were far more difficult than their modern descendants; and the languages of primitive and barbaric peoples are frequently harder to learn and more complex than Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit. ... man appears not to have begun with a simple speech, and gradually made it more complex, but rather to have gotten hold of a tremendously knotty speech somewhere in the unrecorded past, and gradually simplified it to the modern forms (Hunt, 1948, p. 63).In the innumerable varieties of life below humans is found little evidence of mentality other than "instinct." No gradual gradation of mind, intelligence, or conscience exists today; tremendous mental gulfs exist between humans and the smartest animal, a gap that creates serious problems for evolution. The instinct in the lower animals sometimes shows a wisdom greater than mankind's typical behavior, but it is not a wisdom consciously exercised but is rigidly confined within very narrow bounds, and void of reasoning power to cope with novel or many unique emergency situations.
Humans have progressed intellectually because of the accumulated knowledge gathered by previous generations, whereas animals will forever remain at the mental level of their ancestors. Only humans know that someday they may die, and humans alone have a conception of a Supreme Creator. From the beginning of recorded time, only humans have felt the impulse to look to and call upon a higher power for guidance and help.
No "links" between humans and the lower animals have ever been found because they never existed. The theory of evolution, as Darlington put it, "released thinking man from the spell of the superstition, one of the most overpowering that has ever enslaved mankind" (1960, p. 60). That "superstition," a belief in God as the creator, has now been replaced by another one which lacks most of the critical evidence or uses contrived evidences from the fossil record. It is called evolutionary naturalism and it has caused many humans to lose their powers of objective thinking and base their faith in the vagaries of time, chance, natural selection, and random mutations as the creator of all life.
Although some extinct animals such Archaeopteryx have been claimed to be links, further research has shown that these are, at best, unusual animals, and not clearly transitional forms. When we use the term "links" we are referring to clear bridges between basic family kinds such as dogs and cats (or insects and birds) beyond the tremendous variation that exists within a family. Breeding experimentation has produced many types of "new" animals, but has not yet achieved any clear links to another major family kind, or animals that are in between a domestic cat and an amphibian, or even a cat and a chicken.
The "Genesis kind" refers not to species, but is more comparable to the modern term "family" such as the cat, dog, or human families (Mehlert, 1995). Wide variation within each kind allows many races and species to breed from one pair of the originally created kinds, and many of the various forms within the kind or family are cross-fertile. No variation, though, has been shown clearly to cross the Genesis kind boundary, and individuals from different "kinds" or families cannot "cross breed" to reproduce.
Chase, Stuart. "How Different Are You? Here's What Science Has To Say About Race." Science Illustrated, Sept., 1948 3(9):30-31, 71-72.
Darlington, C. D. "The Origin of Darwinism." Scientific American, May, 1960:60.
Fischman, Joshua. "Have 25-Million-Year-Old Bacteria Returned To Life?" Science, May 19, Vol. 268:1061, 1995.
Fix, William R. The Bone Peddlars; Selling Evolution. New York: Macmillan, 1984.
Funk, Willard. "New Theory of Man in the Maleinz." Literary Digest, February 8, 100:27-29, 1929.
Hunt, Morton. "On the Origin of Species." Science Illustrated, July, 3(7):26, 1948
Johanson, Donald and Maitland Edey. Lucy, the Beginning of Humankind. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1981.
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Shapiro, Robert. Origins: A skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth. NY: Summit Books, 1986.
Spencer, Frank. Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery. NY:Oxford University Press, 1990.
Standen, Anthony. Science Is a Sacred Cow. NY: E P. Dutton & Company, 1950.
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