Thursday, July 31, 2014

BioLogos, Ken Ham and David Menton—A Response, Part VI: The Conclusion

This concludes my response to David Menton's post on human origins, which has been a chore to read and respond to. Menton's conclusion is so short, I will post it in its entirety:
Why then are there continued efforts to make apes out of man and man out of apes? In one of the most remarkably frank and candid assessments of the whole subject and the methodology of paleoanthropology, Dr. David Pilbeam (a distinguished professor of anthropology) suggested the following:

Perhaps generations of students of human evolution, including myself, have been flailing about in the dark; that our data base is too sparse, too slippery, for it to be able to mold our theories. Rather the theories are more statements about us and ideology than about the past. Paleoanthropology reveals more about how humans view themselves than it does about how humans came about. But that is heresy.
Oh, that these heretical words were printed as a warning on every textbook, magazine, newspaper article, and statue that presumes to deal with the bestial origin of man!
No, we are not descended from apes. Rather, God created man as the crown of His creation on Day 6. We are a special creation of God, made in His image, to bring Him glory. What a revolution this truth would make if our evolutionized culture truly understood it!
First, David Pilbeam wrote that almost forty years ago, and yet Menton appears to hold it up as current scholarship.  You wouldn't do that in any legitimate scientific discipline.  It may be a good example of “look what we thought back then,” in a historical sense and as compare and contrast but not current thought.  This is a typical young earth creationist tactic: find a useful quote and keep using it, long after it is no longer true or has been debunked.  As such, it is no different than using (or abusing) Solly Zuckerman's quote from the early 1970s.  I saw Duane Gish at the University of Tennessee a few years back he used Zuckerman's quote as well.  Once a quote is found, it makes the rounds.

Pilbeam's quote comes from a review of Richard Leakey's book Origins and is found in the American Scientist (Vol. 66, No. 3, May-June 1978).  Let's see what Pilbeam thinks about palaeoanthropology as of 1995:
The discovery of an australopithecine mandible together with a middle Pliocene fauna 2,500 km west of the Rift Valley considerably extends the known range of these early hominids and raises several interesting issues. The Chad specimen is most similar to its East African contemporary A. afarensis. Nevertheless, in certain features-mandibular morphology, premolar roots and enamel thickness- it differs from the described hypodigm of A. afarensis . Given the genetic and morphological differences now recognized between allopatric populations within, for example, Pan troglodytes, Gorilla gorilla, Pongo pygmaeus and Papio hamadryas as well as other African mammals, it is not surprising that contemporaneous hominid populations as geographically distant as Chad and Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania would differ in morphology, regardless of whether they are classified as species or subspecies. Here we do not choose to name a new species, recognizing that more detailed comparisons are necessary before the taxonomy of this Bahr el Ghazal hominid can be resolved.1
Here, he and the other authors of the paper clearly feel that the state of the discipline is sound enough to make educated pronouncements about the fossil record.  In all of Pilbeam's papers, it is clear that he is committed “evolutionist.” As with all palaeoanthropologists, he accepts that there may be aspects of the study that are not known or poorly understood but, of the central tenet: that humans have evolved, there is clearly no doubt.  Thirty six years is a long time in the history of a scientific discipline.

How good is our understanding of the human fossil record now?  Here is what another distinguished professor of anthropology, Richard Klein, has to say:
In the absence of fossils, Darwin could not have predicted the fundamental pattern of human evolution, but his evolutionary theory readily accommodates the pattern we now recognize. Probably the most fundamental finding is that the australopithecines, who existed from at least 4.5 million to 2 million years ago, were distinguished from apes primarily by anatomical specializations for habitual bipedalism, and it was only after 2 million years ago that people began to acquire the other traits, including our unusually large brains, that readily distinguish us from the living apes. The greatly expanded fossil record shows that the australopithecines comprised multiple species, and it suggests that our own genus, Homo, descended from one of these about 2.5 million years ago.2
Note the phrase “the greatly expanded fossil record.” Recall the two compendia on this fossil record I mentioned in the first part of this response. Menton clearly is unfamiliar with this record and his attempts to discredit it are shallow, as a result.

To recap:
  • He claims that “evolutionists” just accept similarities between fossil bones of living men and fossilized apes as evidence of ancestry. Such a statement betrays a lack of understanding of homology, functional morphology and the modern study of evolutionary systematics. It glosses over important skeletal structures that arose during our ancestry and which separate our direct ancestors from all apes, fossil or otherwise.
  • He massively under-emphasizes the size of the human fossil record and the complexity of it, simply dismissing it with no examination or explanation.
  • He suggests that research projects cannot be undertaken based on pictures and measurements of fossil hominins.  This is absurd.  There is no scientific discipline that does not rely on published reports.  Moreover, this is a peculiar statement coming from a professor of anatomy, who must have, during his tenure as a professor, read countless articles on aspects of anatomy in which there were published measurements and pictures.  What was he to make of those?  Did they not constitute real research on which he based his own?
  • He mistakenly calls a spider monkey an ape, bringing into question his understanding of basic primate taxonomy.  Further, while his anatomical specialty seems to have been at the cellular level, he betrays a peculiar lack of understanding of human morphological functional interrelatedness by suggesting that the carrying angle of hominins can be dissociated from hip, limb and cranial morphology.  While it may be true that some apes have a similar carrying angle to humans, not a one of them has a foramen magnum at the base of the skull, angled femoral condyles, or a flat, wide pelvis.  Further, these derived traits show up in the fossil record around 3.7 million years ago.  How did he miss these things?  When I took gross anatomy and physiology, I was required to learn not just developmental biology, but functional and comparative morphology.  Has he forgotten his?
  • He writes that Ardipithecus, Orrorin, Sahelanthropus, and Kenyanthropus all have “obviously ape skulls, ape pelvises, and ape hands and feet” despite the fact that only one of these finds preserves the skeletal parts he references. This suggests that he never even bothered to look at the reports detailing these finds.  To make such errant, blanket statements about them is incompetent and sloppy. 
  • He cherry-picks quotes that support his position and ignores ones that do not.  While he calls A. afarensis “long-armed knuckle-walkers” and suggests that palaeoanthropologists Stern and Susman3 argue that it is an ape, he carefully ignores other paragraphs from their article, in which they clearly argue that it is transitional between apes and humans, even using the phrase “missing link.”  He then (again, oddly for an anatomist) ignores other critical morphology of A. afarensis that clearly indicates its transitional status.
  • He writes that Neandertals were considered human but have recently been denigrated to non-human status, when in fact, that is precisely backwards.  From their initial discoveries, Neandertals were considered subhuman4,5 and it has only been within the last thirty years that their relationship to modern humans has been reassessed, inviting claims by some that they represent simply an earlier version of us and incorporating new genetic knowledge of interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans6.  
This is a badly written post that shows little in the way of actual research.  He seems to misunderstand basic anatomy, gets fossil descriptions wrong, quote-mines to show only what appears to support his position and seems to show no understanding of basic evolutionary biology.  His demeanor is pompous and contemptuous and his treatment of the subject matter invites scorn.

I have absolutely no doubt that Dr. Menton is a bible-believing Christian and that, as such, he is an asset to the kingdom.  I also believe that, like so many other young-earth creationists I am familiar with, he treats the fossil material and the discipline of evolutionary biology with dishonesty and lack of integrity.  This saddens me since it, as with all of creation, reflects the goodness, glory and, importantly, the awesomeness of God.  Further, it is a bad witness and pushes people away from God. 
    1Brunet, M, Beauvilain, A, Coppens, Y, Heintz, E, Moutaye, A, Pilbeam, D. (2014) The first australopithecine 2,500 kilometres west of the Rift Valley (Chad). Nature 378, November 16, 1995
    2Klein, R. G. (2009). Darwin and the recent African origin of modern humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(38), 16007-16009.
    3Stern Jr, J. T., & Susman, R. L. (1983). The locomotor anatomy of Australopithecus afarensis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 60(3), 279-317.
    4Boule, M. (1913). L'homme fossile de La Chapelle-aux-Saints: Masson.
    5Virchow, Rudolf. Untersuchung der Neanderthal Schädels. 1872.
    6For example: Sankararaman S, Patterson N, Li H, Pääbo S, Reich D (2012) The Date of Interbreeding between Neandertals and Modern Humans. PLoS Genet 8(10): e1002947. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002947
    7Krings, M., Stone, A., Schmitz, R. W., Krainitzki, H., Stoneking, M., & Pääbo, S. (1997). Neandertal DNA sequences and the origin of modern humans. Cell, 90(1), 19-30.

    Friday, July 25, 2014

    Blogger seems to have fixed some things but not others.  I restructured it so it would not bleed over.

    Thursday, July 24, 2014

    Blogger seems to be having trouble with its formatting today.  I am not sure what is going on but will try to find out.

    Off-Topic: Heaven & Earth: A Second Listen

    I thought it might grow on me.  Nope, not any better the second time around.  The main problem, in my opinion, seems to be that much of the songwriting has been assumed by Jon Davison and his songwriting is much more AOR-oriented.  That doesn't work for Yes. 

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    BioLogos, Ken Ham and David Menton—A Response, Part V

    This is part five of the response to David Menton's post on the Answers in Genesis page, on human origins.  It is also a few days late.  We are now to the section that he calls “Making Apes Out of Men.”

    Point 10.  He writes:
    In an effort to fill the gap between apes and men, certain fossil men have been declared to be “apelike” and thus, ancestral to at least “modern” man. You might say this latter effort seeks to make a “monkey” out of man! Human fossils that are claimed to be “apemen” are generally classified under the genus Homo (meaning “man”). These include Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis.
    The best-known human fossils are of Cro-Magnon man (whose marvelous paintings are found on the walls of caves in France) and Neanderthal man. Both are clearly human and have long been classified as Homo sapiens. In recent years, however, Neanderthal man has been downgraded to a different species—Homo neanderthalensis. The story of how Neanderthal man was demoted to an apeman provides much insight into the methods of evolutionists.
    Neanderthal man was first discovered in 1856 by workmen digging in a limestone cave in the Neander valley near Dusseldorf, Germany. The fossil bones were examined by an anatomist (Professor Schaafhausen) who concluded that they were human.
    At first, not much attention was given to these finds, but with the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, the search began for the imagined “apelike ancestors” of man. Darwinians argued that Neanderthal man was an apelike creature, while many critical of Darwin (like the great anatomist Rudolph Virchow) argued that Neanderthals were human in every respect, though some appeared to be suffering from rickets or arthritis. 
    Here he gets things exactly backwards. Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis and Homo neanderthalensis are not classified by any palaeoanthropologists as “ape men.”  Such a statement is ridiculous on its face.  The reason that those fossil species are in the genus Homo is because they are advanced enough to be placed there.  They are classified as “hominids” or “hominins.”

    He uses the phrase “Cro Magnon man” as if it pertains to all of modern humans.  He reinforces this by remarking on the cave paintings, even though those don't show up until the Upper Palaeolithic, at Chauvet Cave.  He then writes that both Neandertals and modern humans are classified as Homo sapiens, but that in recent years, Neandertals have been “downgraded.”

    Really?  As Dave Frayer1 put it:
    The “Neanderthals are inferior” attitude traces back to their earliest descriptions in the mid-1800s when the first Neanderthal was labeled as “freak” or an “idiot” or “incapable of moral and religious conception.” For many, the discoveries after 1865 confirmed these labels. Even the majority of human paleontologists supported this view.
    That is 160 years ago.  How is that "recently?"  Menton is also wrong that Neandertals were first discovered in the Neander Valley.  That is just where the type-specimen were found. Second, he is wrong about what those who discovered it thought it was.  From my BioLogos post on Neandertals:
    Known far and wide for its limestone, the Neandertal or Neander “Valley” attracted the attention of local industrial groups in the early 1700s and considerable mining was carried out in this area through the middle 1800s. It was during the mining of one such area in 1856, Feldhofer Cave, that workers discovered a set of bones, which they initially thought belonged to a bear. To the local biology teacher, Johann Fulrott, who had been called in to identify them, they looked remarkably human—but not exactly. Something was not quite right. Intrigued by their form, and knowing that they represented something out of the ordinary, he took them to the city of Bonn and showed them to university anatomist Hermann Schaffhausen. After a joint investigation of the skeletal remains, in 1857 Fulrott and Schaffhausen announced to the world that they represented a new form of human predating modern Homo sapiens and with an as yet undetermined relationship with them.
    What they did not know at the time was that the remains from the Feldhofer Cave very closely resembled those that had been removed from the Belgian site of Engis and the Forbes Quarry site in Gibraltar several decades earlier. It was not until 1864 that these remains as a group began to be referred to as “Neandertal Man.”  (King, 1864).
    The La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neandertal was discovered by A. and J. Bouyssonie, and L. Bardon, in 1908.  As Menton notes, in 1911 Marcelin Boule, the French anthropologist, wrote an extensive monograph on it.  Boule was handicapped by an almost overwhelming inability to conceive of these remains as being ancestral to modern humans in any way. Consequently, the publication that emanated from his investigation was rife with errors that it is difficult, in hindsight, to justify or excuse.

    The La Chapelle Neandertal was also an old man. This could be seen from the number of missing teeth and resorption of bone around those that had fallen out. Also present was considerable osteoarthritis, especially in the vertebrae. The arthritis may have made it hard to walk. Boule took this characteristic in the La Chapelle specimen and made it seems as though the Neandertal’s natural gait was slouching and primitive. Boule also focused on the sloping forehead and the huge eyes and nose, arguing that these were primitive. He contended that these features strongly suggested a placement in the evolutionary line little above the great apes, with little to no intelligence that would have linked this race to modern humans (Boule, 1911-1913)2.

    He notes that the “great anatomist” Virchow thought that Neandertals were modern human.  Of this, Drell3 writes:
    The Neanderthal find was made only three years before Darwin published The Origins of Species and thus the discovery of the Neander Valley was seen to verify his theories.6 An ardent debate evolved, centred around Fuhlrott and Hermann Schaaffhausen, who both proposed that the bones were those of an archaic human form. This was in direct opposition to one of Germany’s leading scientists of the era, Rudolf Virchow, a distinguished pathologist who rigorously rejected the hypothesis. In his view, the bones were those of a recently deceased pathological human. Virchow’s viewpoint had a great impact on the following decades of research, not least because of his prominence in Germany. His persistent dismissal of all discovered hominid fossils is thought to have impeded progress for the rest of the century (see Stringer and Gamble 1993; Trinkaus and Shipman 1993).
    Point 11. In his discourse, Menton attempts to portray Neandertals as misunderstood modern humans and that they had completely modern morphology.  This simply is not so.  As Fred Smith, a palaeoanthropologist who has studied Neandertals for decades noted, while there are traits in modern Europeans that are reminiscent of Neandertals here and there, there is no single person alive who bears the entire suite of Neandertal traits.  Harvati4 writes this:
    Neanderthals are characterized by a multitude of distinctive cranial, mandibular, dental, and postcranial anatomical features (Fig. 2), many of which are unique to them. Neanderthals also show several “primitive” features, i.e., features shared with the common ancestor of both Neanderthals and modern humans
    Here is a graphic example of how modern humans and Neandertals differed.  The skull on the left is a cast of the La Chapelle Neandertal, while the skull on the right is cast of a modern human from the site of Predmosti, dated to around 27, 000 years B.P.

    There are several things to note about this image.  The entire face of the Neandertal is larger than the modern human skull.  Further, the middle of the face is prognathic, or pulled out.  There is a large brow ridge present on the Neandertal that is missing on the modern human.  The Neandertal's teeth are much larger, especially the front ones.  The Neandertal forehead is also more sloped than the modern human one.  Behind the face, the skull of Neandertals is very long and low, while modern humans possess a much more rounded skull.  It was these features that gave rise to the idea that Neandertals were a separate species from modern humans.  They may yet be, although in recent years, it has been found that at some point in their evolutionary history, they interbred with modern humans to some extent.

    In our own analyses5 of Neandertal crania, using as a comparison a modern human sample of over 2500 known modern human individuals from 23 different populations, we found that they never fell within the range of the modern sample.  In fact, every bivariate plot that I produced contained a nice grouping of Neandertals, away from modern humans.  Using this statistical morphological definition of modern human, Neandertals cannot be classified as modern. 

    Point  11.  Menton writes:
    In addition to anatomical evidence, there is a growing body of cultural evidence for the fully human status of Neanderthals. They buried their dead and had elaborate funeral customs that included arranging the body and covering it with flowers. They made a variety of stone tools and worked with skins and leather. A wood flute was recently discovered among Neanderthal remains. There is even evidence that suggests that Neanderthals engaged in medical care. Some Neanderthal specimens show evidence of survival to old age despite numerous wounds, broken bones, blindness, and disease. This suggests that these individuals were cared for and nurtured by others who showed human compassion.

    Still, efforts continue to be made to somehow dehumanize Neanderthal man. Many evolutionists now even insist that Neanderthal man is not even directly related to modern man because of some differences in a small fragment of DNA! There is, in fact, nothing about Neanderthals that is in any way inferior to modern man. One of the world’s foremost authorities on Neanderthal man, Erik Trinkaus, concludes: “Detailed comparisons of Neandertal skeletal remains with those of modern humans have shown that there is nothing in Neandertal anatomy that conclusively indicates locomotor, manipulative, intellectual, or linguistic abilities inferior to those of modern humans.”
    Here, Menton correctly hits on an area that is very controversial in modern palaeoanthropological studies: whether Neandertals were a separate species from anatomically modern Homo sapiens.  He is correct that Neandertals did practice cultural behaviors that we would associate with modern humans, even if they were not on the level of what one finds in the Upper Palaeolithic.  It is, indeed, quite possible that had Neandertals not been subject to the crushing cold and harsh environment of the Wurm glaciation, they might have achieved considerably more than they did.  We will never know.  Regarding the origins of modern humans, there are competing views. 

    On one side of this debate are those who support the multiregional evolution model in which modern humans arose throughout the Old World through a complex interaction of migration, drift and selection between populations.  On the other side are those that argue that modern humans are a completely different species that migrated out of North Africa, "replacing" the archaic humans that they encountered.  It is clear that neither of these extremes is correct.  The earliest modern humans are, indeed, found in Africa and there is evidence that modern humans and archaic humans did, in fact, interbreed to some extent.

    This is a debate that has raged for decades and shows no signs of slowing down.  However, while there is considerable debate between different researchers, as noted above, there are clear anatomical differences between Neandertals and modern humans.

    Point 12. Menton's statement that Neandertals and modern humans are only differentiated, genetically, by “a small fragment of DNA” is false.  The best palaeogenomic evidence for the relationship between modern humans and Neandertals is contained here. Dennis Venema writes:
    Somewhere between 500,000 and 300,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) left Africa and migrated into the Middle East region, and from there on to Europe and parts of Asia. (Recall that human ancestors, at this point, are all still in Africa, and will stay put until around 50,000 years ago). Neanderthals persisted in the Middle East and Europe until ~30,000 years ago, meaning there was a time where the humans leaving Africa about 50,000 years ago could have interbred with them before they went extinct. This remained an open question until techniques improved to recover and sequence ancient DNA. It is now possible to obtain and sequence DNA from Neanderthal remains, and the complete genome sequence of Neanderthals was published in early 2010. The results were fascinating: DNA sequence comparisons between the two species indicates that modern, non-African humans have about 1-4% Neanderthal DNA in their genomes. This variation, however, is not present in sub-Saharan Africans, since they are descended from humans that did not leave Africa and and thereby, because of geographical separation, never had the opportunity to interbreed with Neanderthals. We also know that the group that left Africa went through a reduction in population size to about 1200 individuals (a genetic bottleneck), whereas those that stayed behind maintained a larger population size (about 6000) over the same period.
    I had some additional comments on this as they related directly to the fossil evidence in a different post in the same series here.  Menton may be correct that there is nothing inferior about Neandertals relative to modern man, but that is not the same thing as saying that there is nothing different.  The two clearly were, even if the significance of the the scope and breadth of the differences is under debate.  While earlier authors did not have access to the statistical and genetic tools that we currently do, their eyeball impressions of Neandertals clearly led them to think that they were not modern human.  This is not a case of modern authors projecting primitiveness on them.  They were seen that way out of the box.

    Next, the conclusion.  

    1Frayer, D. W. (2013). Who You Calling a Neanderthal? The New York Times,  May 2, 2013. Retrieved from

    2Boule, M. (1913). L'homme fossile de La Chapelle-aux-Saints: Masson.

    3Drell, J. R. R. (2000). Neanderthals: A History of Interpretation. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 19(1), 1-24

    4Harvati, K. (2007). Neanderthals and Their Contemporaries. In W. Henke & I. Tattersall (Eds.), Handbook of paleoanthropology (pp. 1717-1748): Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

    5Kidder, J. H., Jantz, R. L., & Smith, F. H. (1992). Defining modern humans: a multivariate approach. In F. H. Smith & G. Bräuer (Eds.), Continuity or replacement (pp. 157-177). Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014


    The fifth part of the response to David Menton will be here shortly.  In the meantime, I am going off topic.  Here is a review of the new Yes album that I just sent to iTunes:
    I believe that when Yes released “Believe Again,” it was a tactical move because that song sounds the most like traditional Yes.  On the new album, it is the only song that does.  While that is, in and of itself, not necessarily a bad thing, in this case, it is.  It is as if the members consciously went through a process of trying to write a different kind of music for this album just for the sake of doing so.  It doesn’t work.  It really doesn’t work.  Most of the songs are very mild and uninteresting, with no hooks or stand-out playing.  In fact, it is difficult to tell that it is Yes, at all.  Fly From Here didn’t have to grow on me.  From the first chords, you knew exactly who you were listening to and even from the opening track, the album had punch.  This has absolutely none.  The production is flat and there are no sections that reach out and grab you with any power at all.  Even the peculiar “Union” disc had punch, even if the songs were uneven.  Here, the songs are very even—too much so.  Geoff Downes recently said that this line-up has quite a bit of life left in them.  I hope they show more of it the next time around. 
    Now listening to Tales from Topographic Oceans.  Crying a little bit.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    BioLogos, Ken Ham and David Menton—A Response, Part IV

    This is the fourth part of my response to David Menton's post on human origins.  Links to the first three appear below this post.  Menton continues his ham-fisted, ignorant attack on the human fossil record.

    Point 8.  He writes:  
    Many apemen are merely apes that evolutionists have attempted to upscale to fill the gap between apes and men. These include all the australopithecines, as well as a host of other extinct apes such as Ardipithecus, Orrorin, Sahelanthropus, and Kenyanthropus. All have obviously ape skulls, ape pelvises, and ape hands and feet. Nevertheless, australopithecines (especially Australopithecus afarensis) are often portrayed as having hands and feet identical to modern man; a ramrod-straight, upright posture; and a human gait.

    The best-known specimen of A. afarensis is the fossil commonly known as “Lucy.” A life-like mannequin of “Lucy” in the Living World exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo shows a hairy, humanlike female body with human hands and feet but with an obviously apelike head. The three-foot-tall Lucy stands erect in a deeply pensive pose with her right forefinger curled under her chin, her eyes gazing off into the distance as if she were contemplating the mind of Newton.

    Few visitors are aware that this is a gross misrepresentation of what is known about the fossil ape Australopithecus afarensis. These apes are known to be long-armed knuckle-walkers with locking wrists. Both the hands and feet of this creature are clearly apelike. Paleoanthropologists Jack Stern and Randall Sussman2 have reported that the hands of this species are “surprisingly similar to hands found in the small end of the pygmy chimpanzee–common chimpanzee range.” They report that the feet, like the hands, are “long, curved and heavily muscled” much like those of living tree-dwelling primates. The authors conclude that no living primate has such hands and feet “for any purpose other than to meet the demands of full or part-time arboreal (tree-dwelling) life.” 
    Some background involving the Miocene apes. At the beginning of the Miocene epoch, apes had largely generalized skeletal structures, with few of the adaptations that we see in the modern apes, or in humans.  Toward the end of the Miocene, biomechanical adaptations are seen in many of the apes.  For example, Oreopithecus has developed a locomotor pattern seen in modern non-human apes (although it was mis-identified by Casey Luskin as bipedal).

    Menton, having taken us through the differences between apes and humans, suggests that Ardipithecus, Orrorin, Sahelanthropus and Kenyanthropus all have “obviously ape skulls, ape pelvises, and ape hands and feet.”

    • Kenyanthropus consists of a single skull find that is so badly crushed that most researchers have pretty much written it off as being unusable in taxonomic reconstruction.
    • Sahelanthropus is also a single skull find that was also crushed and may, in fact, be a surface find.
    • Orrorin tugenensis is a collection of post-cranial remains, the most important of which is a partial femur, which showed clear adaptations toward bipedality. 
    • Ardipithecus ramidus consists of both cranial and post-cranial remains, including both hands and feet.  Here is what Owen Lovejoy and colleagues wrote about it in 2009:
    The gluteal muscles had been repositioned so that Ar. Ramidus could walk without shifting its center of mass from side to side. This is made clear not only by the shape of its ilium, but by the appearance of a special growth site unique to hominids among all primates (the anterior inferior iliac spine). However, its lower pelvis was still almost entirely ape-like, presumably because it still had massive hindlimb muscles for active climbing.
    How does Menton describe the locomotion of modern apes?  He writes:
    These animals manage to keep their weight over their feet when walking by swinging their body from side to side in the familiar “ape walk.” 
    Yet he calls Ardipithecus “merely” an ape. By his own description, Ardipithecus is clearly not “merely” an ape. Did he just miss this detail, or did he simply choose not to include it?

    To recap this point,  he writes that all of the finds he mentions have “obviously ape skulls, ape pelvises, and ape hands and feet,” and yet we find that only one of the finds has those body parts preserved.  He, further, ignores critical morphology on the Ardipithecus remains to make it seem as if it has no hominin adaptations.  How are we to believe what he writes when he so incompetently describes the fossils he is denigrating?

    Point 9: In quoting Stern and Susman, here, again, Menton picks and chooses what he wants to use and doesn't tell his audience other critical information that undercuts his position.  Menton writes as if Australopithecus afarensis were only an ape, yet Stern and Susman write, in their conclusion:
    In our opinion A. afarensis is very close to what can be called a “missing link.” It possesses a combination of traits entirely appropriate for an animal that had traveled well down the road toward full-time bipedality, but which retained structural features that enabled it to use the trees efficiently for feeding, resting, sleeping, or escape. prior to the discovery of the Hadar remains, one could not have predicted precisely what combination of traits would be found in a transitional form such as A. afarensis.
    These writers, who, unlike Menton, examined the remains directly, clearly did not conclude it was merely an ape but, in fact, a transitional form between the apes that came before, and the hominins that came after.

    But worse, Menton completely ignores other characteristics of A. afarensis that don't just undercut his position that it is merely an ape, they destroy it. 

    • The first premolar in apes (or bicuspid if you prefer) is long and rotated toward the front of the mouth. This is so it can constantly sharpen the maxillary canine as the ape bites down. This is known as a "sectorial premolar". In humans, this tooth is rotated so that the cusp division is parallel to the tooth row and does not stick up beyond it. The maxillary canine is, correspondingly, short. In Australopithecus afarensis, this tooth is rotated HALF-WAY and partially sticks up from the tooth row. The canine is shortened as in modern humans.
    • The palate of the mouth in apes is shaped like a hard "U" with the back teeth parallel to each other. In humans, the palate is more "V" shaped. In A. afarensis, it is intermediate between these two shapes.
    • In apes, there is a distinct space between the canine and the first premolar, called a diastema. In humans, this space is absent. In A. afarensis, a diastema is present but it is remarkably reduced in size over the ape condition.
    In other instances, some characteristics are completely ape-like and some are completely human-like. For example:
    • The digits (phalanges) on both the hands and feet are curved, as in apes. In humans, they are straight.
    • The pelvis is flared (wide from side to side) and short from top to bottom, as in humans.
    • The hole in the skull where the spinal chord exits the brain, the foramen magnum, is located on the bottom of the skull in Australopithecus afarensis, as in humans.  Having a hole at the base reflects a bipedal gait.
    • the knee joint, which preserves the bottom (distal) section of the femur and the top (proximal) section of the tibia shows that the femur is angled, as in humans. This is the "carrying angle" of which Menton wrote. The A. afarensis position, once again, reflects bipedalism.
    These characteristics are exactly what you would expect to find in a transitional species: some characteristics transitional, some ape-like and some human-like. Most of the above information was taken from Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind and Johanson et al. (1982) but can be found in most textbooks about this subject.  It is amazing that Menton went to no effort to locate this information before dismissing A. afarensis' transitional status without thought.    It is, further, amazing that Ken Ham would hold Menton's post up as being authoritative when it is so badly researched and written.

    On to Part V

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    BioLogos, Ken Ham and David Menton—A Response, Part III

    This is the third part of my response to David Menton's post on human origins, cited by Ken Ham in his swipe at BioLogosPart One his here, Part two is here.We have been proceeding, point by point.

    Point 6.  Menton writes:
    Evolutionists are particularly interested in the angle at which the femur and the tibia meet at the knee (called the carrying angle). Humans are able to keep their weight over their feet while walking because their femurs converge toward the knees, forming a carrying angle of approximately nine degrees with the tibia (in other words, we’re sort of knock-kneed). In contrast, chimps and gorillas have widely separated, straight legs with a carrying angle of essentially zero degrees. These animals manage to keep their weight over their feet when walking by swinging their body from side to side in the familiar “ape walk.”
    Evolutionists assume that fossil apes with a high carrying angle (humanlike) were bipedal and thus evolved into man. Certain australopithecines (apelike creatures) are considered to have walked like us and thus to be our ancestors largely because they had a high carrying angle. But high carrying angles are not confined to humans—they are also found on some modern apes that walk gracefully on tree limbs and only clumsily on the ground. 
    Living apes with a high carrying angle (values comparable to man) include such apes as the orangutan and spider monkey—both adept tree climbers and capable of only an apelike bipedal gait on the ground. The point is that there are living tree-dwelling apes and monkeys with some of the same anatomical features that evolutionists consider to be definitive evidence for bipedality, yet none of these animals walks like man and no one suggests they are our ancestors or descendants. 
    Let's leave aside the fact that the spider monkey is not an ape, although it speaks to Menton's understanding of primate taxonomy.  Menton follows the above quoted passage with some of the differences between the human feet and hips and, largely, gets them right.  But that makes his comments about the carrying angle all the more peculiar.  In hominin biomechanics, the legs do not operate independently of the hip, or of the feet.  He comments that there are apes that seem to have similar carrying angles and yet can't walk bipedally to save their lives.  He even writes that, given the ape pelvis, there is no way to walk like a human.  He is right about their hips, they are long and narrow.  He is right about their feet, they have opposable halluxes and the toes are not straight and narrow.  These features, in combination would keep anyone from walking upright like a human, no matter what their carrying angle was.  Walking gracefully on tree limbs is not the same thing as walking gracefully on the ground.  He isolates the carrying angle and seems to think that, because it might be similar in apes and humans, our analyses of the gait differences between the two are suspect.  That is absurd. 

    And this brings up another problem.  He states that australopithecines were considered bipeds because of their carrying angle.  What he doesn't mention is that we have many fossil finds that indicate that not only did they have high carrying angles, they had all of the other adaptations for bipedalism.  They had human-like hips, and feet that are mostly human-like and, unmentioned by Menton, STS-14, an almost complete australopithecine vertebral column, shows that they had the double-s curve of the spine that we have and that are critical to bipedal locomotion.

    Further, in his discussion of the skull, he ignores the placement of the foramen magnum, which is critical to understanding primate morphology.  The foramen magnum is the hole in the skull through which the spinal cord descends into the body.  In non-human primates (all non-human primates!) the hole is at the back of the skull, to facilitate quadrupedal locomotion.  In all hominins, fossil or otherwise, the hole is at the bottom of the skull, reflecting a bipedal gait.  This is yet another thing that raised a red flag with Raymond Dart on the Taung skull—the hole was at the bottom of the skull, as in humans, not the back, as in baboons—and he noted it accordingly.  This is a critical difference between apes and humans and Menton fails to mention it. 

    Point 7: The second major section of Menton's article is “Only Three Ways to Make an Ape-Man.” He writes:
    Knowing from Scripture that God didn’t create any apemen, there are only three ways for the evolutionist to create one:
    1. Combine ape fossil bones with human fossil bones and declare the two to be one individual—a real “apeman.”
    2. Emphasize certain humanlike qualities of fossilized ape bones, and with imagination upgrade apes to be more humanlike.
    3. Emphasize certain apelike qualities of fossilized human bones, and with imagination downgrade humans to be more apelike.
    These three approaches account for all of the attempts by evolutionists to fill the unbridgeable gap between apes and men with fossil apemen.
    This is the hallmark of modern young earth creationism: to jettison all of modern science in favor of a particular and peculiar hermeneutic involving biology and its evolutionary history.  He reasons that since God would not have ever created a transitional form like an “ape-man,” humans must have fabricated them. How exactly does he know that God didn't create “ape-men?”  It is difficult to be charitable toward Menton regarding this section because he is, at once, so pompous, so insulting and engages in so much obfuscation that one is left wondering if he displays any intellectual integrity whatever. For his first point, he dredges up the Piltdown hoax, writing: 
    The whole thing turned out to be an elaborate hoax. The skull was indeed human (about 500 years old), while the jaw was that of a modern female orangutan whose teeth had been obviously filed to crudely resemble the human wear pattern. Indeed, the long ape canine tooth was filed down so far that it exposed the pulp chamber, which was then filled in to hide the mischief. It would seem that any competent scientist examining this tooth would have concluded that it was either a hoax or the world’s first root canal! The success of this hoax for over 50 years, in spite of the careful scrutiny of the best authorities in the world, led the human evolutionist Sir Solly Zuckerman to declare: “It is doubtful if there is any science at all in the search for man’s fossil ancestry.”1
    The Piltdown hoax celebrated its one hundredth anniversary two years ago, in 2012.  Far and away (in my opinion) is Frank Spencer's account of the hoax, called Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery. Here are details that Menton conveniently leaves out of the account.  When the Piltdown remains were found, there were no dating methods and very few fossil human remains of any kind.  Nonetheless, it sparked controversy when it was discovered by Charles Dawson and, as initially reconstructed by Grafton Elliot Smith, looked remarkably modern in appearance.  It was not until the jaw was found, conveniently missing the ascending ramus, and incorporated into the find that it took on a more ape-like morphology.  Once Piltdown was described, however, it was locked away in a vault and access was very limited. That is where the problems began.  At this point, a critical thing happened.  Dawson died, in 1915.  Common consensus is that Dawson was the perpetrator and took  this information with him to the grave.

    As I noted here, as time went by, more and more human ancestor remains were discovered in Africa, Asia and continental Europe.  As this happened, two things became clear: Nothing even remotely resembling Piltdown was found elsewhere and nothing remotely resembling Piltdown was found in England.  As human lineage trees were constructed throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Piltdown's peculiarity grew and researchers struggled to place it within any context.  Franz Weidenreich, in his excellent monograph on the Homo erectus remains from Zhoukoudian, questioned the dating of the find and had mused, even since the 1920s,  that it might be a combination of human and ape parts.  Ales Hrdlicka, the head of the American Museum of Natural History, actually uttered the dreaded word “fake.”

    Owing to all of these concerns, in 1949, Kenneth Oakley, then in possession of the ability to use a brand-new dating method, fluorine analysis, was successful in getting access to the skull on the condition that he not damage it in any way.   This analysis suggested that the bones were less than 50,000 years old.  On the strength of this, and since nobody could believe that a fossil ape had roamed the English countryside at this time, further, more in-depth analyses were undertaken.  In addition to using fluorine, he and Wilfred Le Gros Clark were able, for the first time, to use a powerful electron microscope, which had been invented in 1926 but was not in widespread use until around 1939.  It was only then that they could discern what Menton seems to think anyone could have seen: that the teeth had been filed down and the jaw stained and fractured.

    Was this embarrassing?  Yup, sure was.  But Menton also fails to mention that the hoax was uncovered by scientists using the scientific method and that the primary reason it was uncovered in the first place is that we knew, even then, enough about human evolution, based on the fossil record, to tell that there was something wrong with Piltdown.  He also fails to mention that the quote by Solly Zuckerman is 44 years old (!) and that Zuckerman even admits that his view was soon in the minority.  Zuckerman, additionally, is remarking on why Piltdown escaped notice, and it is quite clear from his other writings that he accepted human evolution without question.  Menton, once again, fails to include these facts in his post. 

    Part IV here.

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    BioLogos, Ken Ham and David Menton—A Response, Part II

    Point 3:
    Because of the rarity of fossil hominids, even many of those who specialize in the evolution of man have never actually seen an original hominid fossil, and far fewer have ever had the opportunity to handle or study one. Most scientific papers on human evolution are based on casts of original specimens (or even on published photos, measurements, and descriptions of them).
    So?  Menton seems to think that there is a problem with performing analyses based on measurements that other people have taken.  That is nonsense.  A few years back, I was at a conference where a paper was given in which the author was attempting to show the differences between subtle details on various fossil crania.   The striking criticism of the study was that it was based on casts, not on original fossils and, because of this, the analysis was questionable.  When I did my dissertation on the origins of modern human crania, I had measurements of almost all of the original crania that had been taken either by my advisor or by other researchers in the field, who had then published them.  Almost every paper done on human evolution is based on measurements from the original fossils.  The only examples where this is not happening is where the original skulls are missing, as with the Homo erectus remains from Zhoukoudian, which vanished during the run-up to the second world war, or the European Mladec remains, which were destroyed when the allies bombed the castle in which they were housed.  Even in those cases, copious measurements were taken of the originals and, in the case of the Zhoukoudian remains, comprehensive photos were taken. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing analyses based on measurements from the original fossils, especially where the photos are clear and detailed. Bill Howells took detailed measurements of the Near Eastern Qafzeh 6 cranium and then kindly sent me the measurements for it.

    All of science is built on what came before and the observations of the those scientists are absolutely invaluable.

    Point 4:
    Since there is much more prestige in finding an ancestor of man than an ancestor of living apes (or worse yet, merely an extinct ape), there is immense pressure on paleoanthropologists to declare almost any ape fossil to be a “hominid.” As a result, the living apes have pretty much been left to find their own ancestors. 
    More nonsense.   There are palaeoprimatologists that spend their entire lives researching the prehistory of non-human primates.  A check of Google Scholar revealed over forty-nine thousand papers dealing with non-human fossil primates.  One of the most productive and exciting aspects of fossil primate studies is the search for the last common ancestor (LCA).  This involves an in-depth study of Miocene apes.  Another area of important study is the origin of the large-bodied primates and the split between the Old World and New World monkeys.  When Menton states that the living apes have been left to find their own ancestors, he forgets the media circus that surrounded the find of the fossil primate Ida, which shed light on the origin of primates as a group. 

    Point 5:
    In contrast to man, apes tend to have incisor and canine teeth that are relatively larger than their molars. Ape teeth usually have thin enamel (the hardest surface layer of the tooth), while humans generally have thicker enamel. Finally, the jaws tend to be more U-shaped in apes and more parabolic in man.
    The problem in declaring a fossil ape to be a human ancestor (i.e., a hominid) on the basis of certain humanlike features of the teeth is that some living apes have these same features and they are not considered to be ancestors of man. Some species of modern baboons, for example, have relatively small canines and incisors and relatively large molars. While most apes do have thin enamel, some apes, such as the orangutans, have relatively thick enamel. Clearly, teeth tell us more about an animal’s diet and feeding habits than its supposed evolution. Nonetheless, thick enamel is one of the most commonly cited criteria for declaring an ape fossil to be a hominid. 
    Menton may be correct in his statements about enamel thickness.  Enamel thickness may be a better indicator of dietary adaptations than of morphology, but, where primates are concerned, that is only true of enamel thickness.  It is not true of tooth morphology.  Primatologists have no trouble telling baboons from humans.  They do not have the same features.  Fossil and modern baboons are quite different from humans, even human ancestors.

    In 1924, when the well-trained anatomist Raymond Dart was given the deposits that had the Taung child in them, he knew immediately that the teeth did not belong to any fossil baboon.  It wasn't the thickness of the enamel that tipped him off.  The dimensions were similar to those of an infant human and the morphology of the canine and the premolars was like that of humans. Remember, at this time, there were very few other prehuman ancestors with which to compare it, and no australopithecines.

    Teeth are, actually, one of the most conservative features on a skeleton and change very little over time.  For example, the Y-5 molar pattern that we have in our mouths is first found in Aegyptopithecus, from the Oligocene epoch, some 30 million years ago. Furthermore, one of the ways we can tell the new world primates from the Old World primates is the number of teeth they have.  New World monkeys have two incisors, one canine, three premolars and three molars in each quarter of the mouth.  All Old World monkeys and apes are lacking the extra premolar (bicuspid, if you are a dentist).  We have this same pattern

    These differences are either glossed over or not mentioned by Menton, who simply declares, based on enamel thickness, that the teeth are similar and completely disregards information that doesn't fit his narrative. 

    Part III here.  

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    BioLogos, Ken Ham and David Menton—A Response, Part I

    I thought that I would respond to Ken Ham's veiled attack on my BioLogos series and subsequent referral to the post on human origins by David Menton in one lump post but it is becoming too massive and straggly and it is taking too long, so I will respond to it in a series of posts, starting with this one.  Here goes:

    As I mentioned last week, Ken Ham took a potshot at me on the AiG page.  His post is titled Does the Bible Teach Human Evolution.  In it, he writes:
    BioLogos is at it again! Earlier this week, I wrote about how they’re indoctrinating children, teens, and young adults with theistic evolution. But now they’re running (for the second time) a blog series on the supposed evidence for human evolution!
    Now, evolutionists have claimed for decades that humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor over long ages. But the so-called evidence they’ve produced for their idea doesn’t support it at all. In fact, many of the alleged fossils of “missing links” have turned out to be hoaxes, and many others are easily identified as either fully human or fully ape.
    Really?  I can only think of one hoax in the last hundred years, Piltdown, and that was uncovered by scientists, using scientific methods, in 1953.  He continues:
    Dr. David Menton, an AiG speaker and a retired professor of anatomy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, explains how evolutionists create ape-men.
    Let's follow the link and see how we create “ape-men.”  He begins his post by laying out Biblical Starting Assumptions and Evolutionary Starting Assumptions.  The hermeneutic validity of AiG's (and by extension, the young earth creationist) doggedly literalist position has been been addressed by thousands of writers over the course of the last two thousand years and will not be addressed in-depth here.  I will, instead, address his points regarding human evolution.

    Point 1.  He writes:
    Since evolutionists generally do not believe that man evolved from any ape that is now living, they look to fossils of humans and apes to provide them with their desired evidence. Specifically, they look for any anatomical feature that looks “intermediate” (between that of apes and man). Fossil apes having such features are declared to be ancestral to man (or at least collateral relatives) and are called hominids. Living apes, on the other hand, are not considered to be hominids, but rather are called hominoids because they are only similar to humans but did not evolve into them. Nonetheless, evolutionists are willing to accept mere similarities between the fossilized bones of extinct apes and the bones of living men as “proof ” of our ape ancestry. 
    First, the wording is such that it gives the impression that the fossils we find and the characteristics that we identify as transitional are those that we desire to.  What we want is immaterial.  Our understanding of human evolution has changed as we have uncovered new evidence.  This process has often been messy and straggly.  If we tailored the fossil record to fit our evolutionary preconceptions, it would not look anything like what it does.  We don't look for features that are "intermediate."  We look for traits that are derived in a particular direction and differentiate them from traits that are retained.  In this way, we can identify lineages based on shared derived traits and identify splits in the fossil record between lineages.  As was recently written over on Panda's Thumb, taxonomists cannot identify ancestor-descendent relationships.  It is not possible to do so given our understanding of the fossil record and taxonomy.  What we can do, and do quite well, however, is identify related taxa and place them in taxonomic relationship to each other.  That is how we have identified Ardipithecus and differentiated it from other late Miocene apes.  Whether or not Ardipithecus is on the line that led to humans or not is not known.  What is known is that it had traits derived in the hominin line (shortened canines, facultative bipedality) while still maintaining a large number of retained traits linking it to other Miocene apes (long arms relative to legs, adaptations to arboreality, a small ape-like brain-case).

    Point 2:
    Though many similarities may be cited between living apes and humans, the only historical evidence that could support the ape ancestry of man must come from fossils. Approximately 95 percent of all known fossils are marine invertebrates, about 4.7 percent are algae and plants, about 0.2 percent are insects and other invertebrates, and only about 0.1 percent are vertebrates (animals with bones). Finally, only the smallest imaginable fraction of vertebrate fossils consists of primates (humans, apes, monkeys, and lemurs).   
    What is meant by the “smallest imaginable fraction?” If you have a sample size of five hundred, 0.01% would be 5. That is not much to go on. On the other hand, if your sample size is huge, say on the order of hundreds of billions of fossils, which reflects the best estimates, then 0.01% would still be over one billion fossils.  Even if only a fraction of that, 0.01%, related to human origins, we would still have over a million fossils relating. Recently, Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey Schwartz put together a four-volume encyclopedia set of human fossil remains.  Each volume is at least 400 pages.  There are a total of 149 listed, many of which have multiple individuals represented.  And this represents only the most complete sites.  In 1977, Kenneth Oakley published, in four volumes, the Catalog of Fossil Hominids, a listing of every fossil site known to that point.  There are literally hundreds of sites listed.

    Is it true that we have gaps in our understanding of human evolution because our fossil record is incomplete?  Yes, it is, but what we have is a whole lot better than Menton suggests.  The site of Hadar alone, which is where the Australopithecus afarensis find Lucy was discovered, yielded over 250 hominin fossils alone in the 1970s.  Many more have been found since.   Menton makes a blanket assumption that, since we have only a fraction of the total fossil record, that is not much.  Here, he is mistaken.

    Part II here.

    Friday, July 04, 2014

    Ken Ham, BioLogos and Human Origins

    My BioLogos series on human origins has shown up on Ken Ham's radar.  In a response, he complains that we are misleading the nation's  youth and references a post by David Menton that is a masterwork of misdirection and omission.  I am on vacation right now but will address the post in full when I get back.

    Wednesday, July 02, 2014

    David MacMillan: Understanding creationism, VI: An insider’s guide by a former young-Earth creationist

    Panda's Thumb has the sixth installment by David MacMillan on Understanding Creationism.  This one deals with the correspondence between fossil taxonomic studies and genetic evidence as well as the daunting task of constructing phylogenies.  He writes:
    The more items you have in a given collection, the more ways they can be arranged. Just five items can be arranged in 120 different ways, and ten items can be arranged in a staggering 3.6 million ways. But the task of placing items into a branching tree is even more complex; for only five items, there are an unbelievable 6.6 × 10198 different possible branching trees. The number of possible trees for just five species is hundreds of orders of magnitude greater than the number of gene sequences that could be used to compare those five different species. So a researcher can’t simply “pick” the sequence that matches; there’s no chance of getting a match in any sequence unless there’s a real phylogeny to work with.

    Most importantly, researchers don’t pick only a single sequence. Phylogenetic analysis is performed on many different sequences, and then all of the resulting trees are compared to each other to see which one appears most consistently. Trees produced by random noise will appear only once; accurate trees will appear in multiple sequences. All these clear facts are completely missing from the creationist understanding.
    Read the whole thing, especially the response to the “common design” argument.

    An Exercise in Futility and a Real Time Waster OR Why Practicing Scientists Don't Take Young Earth Creationists Seriously

    One person wrote a comment on my BioLogos post that went like this:

    here is more then 100 evidence that the erath is younger then 4.5 bilion years:

    and about human “evolution” see this great article:
     I went and looked at the first site.  On it are some 101 so-called "evidences" of a young earth and a global flood.  I decided to tackle it and the further I got in, the madder I got.  Finally, I just gave up because I saw where it was going and because I didn't have time to devote to it.  The first site is put together by Carl Wieland, a medical doctor who quit practicing in 1986 so he could be a full-time young earth creationist.  Going through the list reminded me of why practicing scientists absolutely can't stand dealing with creationists.  Here are the first fourteen.
    My responses are indented.

    1.     DNA in ‘ancient’ fossils. DNA extracted from bacteria that are supposed to be 425 million years old brings into question that age, because DNA could not last more than thousands of years.
    a.    Probably modern contamination.  The best we can hope for is one million years for DNA
    2.      Lazarus bacteria—bacteria revived from salt inclusions supposedly 250 million years old, suggest the salt is not millions of years old. See also Salty saga.
    a.    This point is indistinguishable from the first point
    3.     The decay in the human genome due to multiple slightly deleterious mutations each generation is consistent with an origin several thousand years ago.
    a.    No it is not.  This assumes that everyone inherits all of the mutations and passes them on.  Mutations occur throughout the life of an individual and are not, necessarily passed on during the reproductive years. 
    b.    Sanford completely misunderstands or misrepresents Kimura’s results dealing with mutations, completely omitting the conclusions that Kimura reached that build up of deleterious mutations would have no long term effect on a species.
    4.     The data for ‘mitochondrial Eve’ are consistent with a common origin of all humans several thousand years ago
    a.    Not in any formulation of the out-of-Africa theory are the dates several thousand years ago.  When Cann, Stoneking and Wilson came up with the theory in 1987, they formulated a modern human origin of between 140 and 280 thousand years ago, in Africa.  Subsequent genetic results have not only found that modern humans and Neandertals split around 500 thousand years ago but that there was interbreeding between these two groups, between 30 and 70 thousand years ago.  This point is not only without support as stated, but simply wrong. 
    b.    The author quotes Carl Weiland, a young earth creationist--not a geneticist--who writes “But these dates were based upon ‘molecular clock’ assumptions, which were calibrated by evolutionary beliefs about when certain evolutionary events occurred, supposedly millions of years ago.”  The events are independently confirmed by the fossil record and other genetic studies.  So what if it is based on “evolutionary” beliefs?  Those “beliefs” are based on hard, scientific inquiry and constitute over 150 years of research.  Armchair quarterback comments won’t change that.
    5.     Very limited variation in the DNA sequence on the human Y-chromosome around the world is consistent with a recent origin of mankind, thousands not millions of years.
    a.    From the paper quoted by Dorit et al.: “A coalescent model, with its assumptions of random mating, equilibrium population size, and exponentially distributed bifurcation times, provides an expected date for the last common male ancestor of 270,000 years (with 95% confidence limits of 0 to 800,000 years). Increasing the population size or nonrandom mating would lower this estimate. A lowest limit for the age of the last common ancestor of all Y lineages is derived by assuming the rapid branching and subsequent independence of all Y lineages since the last common male ancestor (known as a "star" phylogeny); such a pattern provides an estimate of 27,000 years, with 95% limits of 0 to 80,000 years. A mixed model, involving local (regional) coalescence, would produce intermediate times (15).” The zero date represents a possible error, not the actual date estimated.  This is misdirection.
    6.     Many fossil bones ‘dated’ at many millions of years old are hardly mineralized, if at all. This contradicts the widely believed old age of the earth. See, for example, Dinosaur bones just how old are they really? Tubes of marine worms, ‘dated’ at 550 million years old, that are soft and flexible and apparently composed of the original organic compounds hold the record (original paper).
    a.    The Ediacaran fossils are still fossils.  The preservation is remarkable but they are, nonetheless, fossils.  They are encased in Pyrite in an anaerobic setting, aided by bacteria.  From the ORIGINAL PAPER: “They were originally soft and plastic as has been demonstrated by their postmortem ductile deformation and the occasional preservation of twisted tubes without breakage. The tubes were sufficiently robust and thick-walled (Fig. 1.7) to be preserved in such a way and then extracted from the sediment without disintegrating.  It is the level of preservation that is unusual.  Besides which, even if you could explain these, and some of the fossils that are partially mineralized, what about the countless fossils that do exist that are completely mineralized?  How do you get those to form in a few thousand years? 
    7.     Dinosaur blood cells, blood vessels, proteins (hemoglobin, osteocalcin, collagen, histones) and DNA are not consistent with their supposed more than 65-million-year age, but make more sense if the remains are thousands of years old (at most). 
    a.    Once again, one example of this in the face of thousands of counterexamples does not a case for a young earth make.  And further, it was “soft tissue,” not dinosaur blood cells. 
    b.    Carl Wieland took this and ran with it, getting many things wrong and misinforming his public about the find. 
    c.     Wieland said: “The fact that this really is unfossilized soft tissue from a dinosaur is in this instance so obvious to the naked eye that any scepticism directed at the previous discovery is completely 'history'.”  Wrong, wrong and wrong.  It was not unfossilized, it was a quarter of a millimeter in size and only visible through a scanning microscope and the criticisms of his position on dinosaurs was unaffected. 
    8.     Lack of 50:50 racemization of amino acids in fossils ‘dated’ at millions of years old, whereas complete racemization would occur in thousands of years. 
    a.    He mentions the Green River Formation and the Fig Tree Chert in South Africa.  The Fig Tree chert has been dated by Samarium-Neodymium to around 3.1 billion years old. 
    b.    Also, from the ORIGINAL PAPER: “The rate of racemization or epimerization of amino acids under diagenetic conditions proceeds at such a slow rate that equilibrium mixtures of stereoisomers are generated within several tens of millions of years.  Kvenvolden et al (1972) have reported the presence of D-amino acids in Green River Oil Shale of Eocene age which are not equilibrium mixtures of stereoisomers.  They have suggested that either the rates of racemization in oil shale are very slow or that the original amino acids have been partially contaminated by more recent amino acids of the L-configuration.   This latter explanation is supported by the optical configuration of amino acids in hydrolysates of the bound fraction of fossil fish scales and bones were obtained from the Messel Oil Shale of Eocene age (50 x 106 years)  Wieland conveniently did not mention this.
    9.     Living fossils—jellyfish, graptolites, coelacanth, stromatolites, Wollemi pine and hundreds more. That many hundreds of species could remain so unchanged, for even up to billions of years in the case of stromatolites, speaks against the millions and billions of years being real.
    a.    So what?   Sharks have remained unchanged for millions of years also.  All that means is that they are remarkably well-adapted to their environment.  Species only change if there is a selective pressure for them to do so.  If there is not, they won’t.  This constitutes no evidence against evolution.
    10.  Discontinuous fossil sequences. E.g. Coelacanth, Wollemi pine and various ‘index’ fossils, which are present in supposedly ancient strata, missing in strata representing many millions of years since, but still living today. Such discontinuities speak against the interpretation of the rock formations as vast geological ages—how could Coelacanths have avoided being fossilized for 65 million years, for example? See The ‘Lazarus effect’: rodent ‘resurrection’!
    a.    The Coelacanth (Latimeria) is related to the sarcopterygians that lived during the Devonian but is also very different from them, besides which there are other lobe-finned fish around—the Queensland lungfish.  As with the point above, this just means that they survived intact.  We see plenty of evolution of some branches of lobe-finned fish into the early tetrapods.  That doesn’t mean they all did. 
    11.  The ages of the world’s oldest living organisms, trees, are consistent with an age of the earth of thousands of years. 
    a.    How is this relevant?  Why would we expect anything older than 4,500 years to be still alive?  It has no bearing on the fossils that came before that represent past, extinct life.  My father is 92.  By this logic, that is consistent with the earth being 92 years old. 
    b.    Bates uses the tree-ring method to explain that there are no trees that are older than 7500 years.  However, using this method, we can also explain ice cores, which have been excavated from Greenland and the arctic and which provide “rings” of years that stretch back 40 to 50 thousand years.
    12.  Scarcity of plant fossils in many formations containing abundant animal / herbivore fossils. E.g., the Morrison Formation (Jurassic) in Montana. See Origins 21(1):51–56, 1994. Also the Coconino sandstone in the Grand Canyon has many track-ways (animals), but is almost devoid of plants. Implication: these rocks are not ecosystems of an ‘era’ buried in situ over eons of time as evolutionists claim. The evidence is more consistent with catastrophic transport then burial during the massive global Flood of Noah’s day. This eliminates supposed evidence for millions of years.
    a.    This information is simply wrong.  Examination of the Morrison formation show that the climate was very dry, like a savanna.  What were found were conifers, tree ferns, rushes and the like.  This constitutes no evidence whatsoever against an old earth.  I was not able to run down the reference listed but, based on what I have read so far, I am certain they were misquoted.  Much of the Coconino sandstones were deposited by water.  Of course it was devoid of plants.  They were an ecosystem, just not the ones that Snelling, Austin and Wieland thought they were.  The depositional environment was varied, however.  Some of the deposits are only consistent with being made on dry sand.  There are also fossilized raindrops.  This was not a mass burial of any sort.
    13.  Thick, tightly bent strata without sign of melting or fracturing. E.g. the Kaibab upwarp in Grand Canyon indicates rapid folding before the sediments had time to solidify (the sand grains were not elongated under stress as would be expected if the rock had hardened). This wipes out hundreds of millions of years of time and is consistent with extremely rapid formation during the biblical Flood. See Warped earth (written by a geophysicist).
    a.    This is a classic example of one, seemingly unexplainable geological formation is extrapolated to cover the entire earth, even though there are no such formations outside of the Grand Canyon.  The young earth explanation completely ignores the fact that rock formations can bend and twist after they have been laid down based on stresses that are placed on them.  Many kinds of rocks are formed this way—they are called metamorphic. 
    b.    But even if we had trouble explaining this, and it was evidence for a catastrophic flooding of the area, how can you explain surface features such as:
                                                  i.     Rain drops
                                                ii.     Dunes
                                              iii.     Beaches
                                                iv.     Soil
                                                  v.     Desiccation cracks
                                                vi.     Footprints
                                              vii.     Coral reefs
    c.     There are countless other examples.  Most of those are from Mark Isaac’s Problems with a Global Flood, which airs out most of the evidence. 
    14.  Polystrate fossils—tree trunks in coal (Araucaria spp. king billy pines, celery top pines, in southern hemisphere coal). There are also polystrate tree trunks in the Yellowstone fossilized forests and Joggins, Nova Scotia and in many other places. Polystrate fossilized lycopod trunks occur in northern hemisphere coal, again indicating rapid burial / formation of the organic material that became coal.
    a.    All that this means is that there are some instances of rapid deposition.  What is not noted about the Joggins formation is that some of the forests show evidence of forest fires.  How would that happen in a global flood?  
    Do I need to continue?  Every single “evidence” of a recent creation is wrong, misunderstood or misconstrued.  Wieland selectively quotes from what he wants, leaves out what doesn’t fit his preconceived ideas, and misdirects his readers away from the true points of an article in a way that can only be called dishonest.  
    The amazing thing about the voluminous list is that every claim has been refuted in one place or another, some decades ago and yet, the page was updated on May 8 of this year?  Why haven’t the bogus claims been removed?

    Once again, this is why practicing scientists despise dealing with creationists.   

    UPDATE: I just noticed that the moderator has removed the comment. 
    UPDATE 2: now the comment is back but mine is gone.  Weird.