Mystery of Homo Sapiens (continued)
By Alan F. Alford
Many scientists believe that language is the key to mankind's great
leap forward, since it uniquely enables us to communicate and transfer
ideas and experiences from one generation to the next. Until recently,
this leap forward was associated with the behavioural changes which
swept Europe around 40,000 years ago. Then, in 1983, there came the
shocking discovery of the 60,000-year-old Neandertal hyoid bone which
proved that Neandertal could talk.
of human language capability remains a controversial subject
and raises more questions than answers. Daniel Dennett sums up
the state of confusion:
by neuroanatomists and psycholinguists has shown that our brains
have features lacking in the brains of our closest surviving
relatives, features that play crucial roles in language perception
and language production. There is a wide diversity of opinion
about when in the last six million years or so our lineage
acquired these traits, in what order and why.
now believe that Homo sapiens had speech from its very
beginning. Studies of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) suggest
that, since speech is widespread today, it must have developed
from a genetic mutation in 'mitochondrial Eve' (mtDNA Eve), nearly
200,000 years ago.
work of Noam Chomsky has shown that newborn babies inherit genetically
an innate and highly advanced language structure. According to
Chomsky's widely-acclaimed theory of universal grammar, the child
is able to subconsciously flick a few simple switches in order
to comprehend and speak the language of its parents, wherever
in the world it happens to be born. It is highly significant
that Chomsky, the leading world expert in the science of linguistics,
cannot see how the human language acquisition system could possibly
have evolved by natural selection.
One of the
foremost evolutionists, Stephen Jay Gould, acknowledges the difficulties
with the evolution of language by effectively admitting that
it was a freak or chance development:
of language are so different from anything else in nature,
and so quirky in their structure, that origin as a side
consequence of the brain's enhanced capacity, rather than
as a simple advance in continuity from ancestral grunts and
gestures, seems indicated. (emphasis added)
man acquire such a sophisticated language capability? According
to Darwinian theory, a few simple grunts would have sufficed
for everyday existence, and yet here we are today with more than
26 alphabet sounds and an average vocabulary of 25,000 words.
speech capability was not such an easy or obvious target for
natural selection. The human ability to talk resides in both
the shape and structure of the mouth and throat, as well as in
the brain. In adult humans the larynx (voicebox) is situated
much lower than in other mammals and the epiglottis (the flap
of cartilage at the root of the tongue) is incapable of reaching
the top of the roof of the mouth. Thus we cannot breathe and
swallow at the same time and are uniquely at risk from choking.
This unique combination of features can have only one purpose
- to make human speech possible. In all other respects it is
an evolutionary disadvantage. Apart from the risk of choking,
it causes our teeth to become crowded, so that, prior to the
advent of antibiotics, septic impacted molars would often have
proved fatal. Just as it is difficult to reverse-engineer the
development of the brain and its language acquisition capability,
so it is also difficult to reverse engineer the development of
we come back to the mystery of the human brain. We are expected
to believe that, within a mere 6 million years, natural selection
caused our brains to expand to the physical limits of the birth
canal. That is quite an evolutionary pace. And, at the same time,
the brain was to acquire an incredibly efficient design with
capabilities light years away from man's needs for everyday existence.
In the words of Arthur Koestler:
of the hominids evolved in the last half a million years...
at an explosive speed, which so far as we know is unprecedented.
is the biggest mystery of all. We are not supposed to have become
intelligent overnight and evolution is supposed to be very slow.
Therefore, if we go back one or two million years we should find
a semi-intelligent being, using its newly-found abilities to
experiment with primitive writing, basic art, and simple multiplication.
But there is nothing, absolutely nothing.
exception, all of the evidence shows that hominids continued
to use the most basic stone tools for 6 million years despite
an increasing cranial capacity. This is very strange and highly
contradictory. We deserve a better explanation.
Back in 1954, it was thought that the hominid leading
to mankind split from the apes 30 million years ago, and that we
into our present form. That period sets an unbiased benchmark of
how long evolution possibly should have taken. Following the discovery
that the split occurred only 6 million years ago, evolutionists have
been forced to assume a much faster rate of evolution to explain
other disconcerting discovery since 1954 is the shockingly slow evolutionary
progress made by Homo erectus and his predecessors up
to around 200,000 years ago.
the evolutionary graph has changed from a nice straight line
into an overnight explosion (Figure 1):
have continually attempted to demonstrate a gradiented evolution
from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens, albeit with
sharp upward steps. However, their attempts to force the data
to meet their preconceptions has been repeatedly exposed by new
it was originally believed that anatomically modern Homo sapiens (Cro-Magnon
man) appeared only 35,000 years ago and had thus descended from
Neandertal who had died out at the same time. At that time, one
of the most dramatic events in human history appears to have
occurred. Cro-Magnon man suddenly arrived in Europe, building
shelters, organising himself in clans, wearing skins for clothing,
and designing special tools and weapons using wood and bones.
It is to this phase of Homo sapiens that we attribute
the magnificent cave art such as that at Lascaux, France, dated
to 27,000 years ago.
But it is
now accepted that, despite the behavioural differences, the European
Cro-Magnons were no different anatomically from the Homo sapiens found
in the Middle East 100,000 years ago. Both would be virtually
indistinguishable from the population today if dressed in modern
clothes. It is also clear that Homo sapiens did not descend
from Neandertal as was previously thought. Several recent discoveries
in Israel have confirmed beyond any doubt that Homo sapiens co-existed
with Neandertal between 100-90,000 years ago.
is our relationship to Neandertal? We are used to seeing artists'
impressions based on his known characteristics of clumsy limbs
and crude features, but everything else, such as the liberal
body hair, is pure supposition, designed to give us the impression
of an evolutionary continuum. Recent discoveries have led to
a major reappraisal of Neandertal. In particular, a 60,000-year-old
Neandertal's remains were found at Kebara Cave, Mount Carmel
in Israel, with an intact hyoid bone, virtually identical to
our present-day hyoid. Since this bone makes human speech possible,
the scientists were forced to conclude that Neandertal had the
capability to speak. And many scientists regard speech as the
key to mankind's great leap forward.
now recognise Neandertal as a fully fledged Homo sapiens,
who for a long time was behaviourally equivalent with other Homo
sapiens. It is quite possible that Neandertal was as intelligent
and human-like as we are today. It has been suggested that his
large and crude skull features may have simply been a genetic
disorder similar to that of acromegaly.
As a result
of the conclusive dating of contemporary Neandertal and Homo
sapiens remains, a new theory has emerged suggesting that
both must have stemmed from an earlier 'archaic' Homo sapiens.
Several fossils have been found, supposedly of this archaic species,
which combine different aspects of primitive erectus and
modern human anatomy. It is commonly cited in the popular press
that these archaics emerged around 300,000 years ago. But it
turns out that this is pure supposition based on a small sample
size, preconceptions and guesswork.
the real facts? In 1989, an advanced seminar was held on The
Origins of Modern Human Adaptations, dealing specifically
with the archaic-modern interface. Summarising the results of
the discussions, Erik Trinkhaus reported that:
point of agreement in the course of the seminar was that sometime
during the later Pleistocene [the last 1 million years], in
a relatively brief period of transition, there was a transformation
from archaic to modern humans - a transformation manifested
in both culture and biology... the transformation from archaic
to modern human witnessed not only the reorganisation of the
brain and body and a shift in stone working from a simple,
expedient technology to a complex and elegant craft, but also
the first appearance of true art and symbolism and the blossoming
of formal systems of language.
stated that the primary issue of the seminar was the distinction
between late archaic and early modern humans, but on the timing
of the transformation he had this to say:
control of fine chronology is inadequate for periods prior
to the finite limits of radiocarbon dating (c. 35,000 years
BP) and from there back through most of the Middle Pleistocene.
seminar in 1992 also focused on the question of the transition
from archaic to modern. One of the papers presented included
the following comment:
of this transition lies beyond the dating range of C14 and
therefore has necessitated the employment of a battery of new
papers presented at the seminar were published by Aitken, Stringer
and Mellars in 1993 and focused particularly on improved chronological
dating methods. Significant progress was reported in a diverse
range of new dating technologies - uranium-series dating, luminescence
dating (thermal or optical) and electron spin resonance (ESR)
- but each suffered various limitations in different circumstances.
Nevertheless, many reliable datings, based on these methods (rather
than radiocarbon, C14) were presented. Significantly, it was
reported that all of the fossils of the archaics were poorly
dated and could not be vouched by any of the new technologies.
As for the
moderns, the earliest definitive and reliable date was cited
as 120-110,000 years Before Present (BP) at Qafzeh in Israel.
None of the other dates, published by this esteemed group of
scientists, was earlier than 200,000 years BP. The date of the
emergence of the moderns could only be guessed at within a huge
range from 500-200,000 years BP.
the true state of scientific knowledge on the subject. There
is no proof that an archaic Homo sapiens existed 300,000
years ago and no proof that Neandertal dates back to 230,000
years ago. The fact of the matter is that Homo sapiens fossils
appear suddenly within the last 200,000 years without any clear
record of their origins. The Atlas of Ancient Archaeology sums
up the situation as follows:
history of Homo sapiens (sapiens) remains bafflingly
obscure... so little do we know about the approach to one of
the great turning points of our global history.
Roger Lewin, writing in 1984, stated:
of fully modern humans denoted by the subspecies name Homo
sapiens (sapiens) remains one of the great puzzles of palaeoanthropology.
Man the Evolutionary
The appearance of Homo
sapiens is more than a baffling puzzle - it is highly
improbable, and close to impossible, according to the fundamental
principles of Darwinism. Allow me to highlight the scale of these
If we use
an ape as the starting point, it is widely agreed that a significant
number of big evolutionary jumps are necessary to evolve into
a man. It is also widely agreed that mutation is the mechanism
by which natural selection works. However, scientists point out
that the vast majority of mutations are bad. They also point
out that macromutations - mutations which produce big changes
- are particularly dangerous to a species and thus unlikely to
survive. Furthermore, they accept that even if a positive mutation
does take hold in a species, it will do so only in the right
circumstances when a small population becomes isolated. In summary,
the mutational mechanism must take a long, long time.
It is the
combination of these improbable factors and the relatively short
period of six million years allowed for man's evolution from
the apes, which has caused such discomfort to leading evolutionary
scientists such as Roger Penrose, Noam Chomsky and Stephen Jay
power of Darwinism, according to its proponents such as Richard
Dawkins, is that, given enough time, natural selection can explain
anything and everything. But when it comes to mankind, the lack
of evolutionary time becomes a major problem. What are the odds
against mankind benefiting from not one but several macromutations
in the course of only six million years?
can be looked at another way. One of the central principles of
Darwinism is that 'nature never over-endows a species beyond
the needs of everyday existence'. So, why was it that, in the
complete absence of an intellectual rival, Homo sapiens did
acquire a brain which was light years beyond its requirements
for everyday existence?
the hominid known as Homo erectus transform itself 200,000
years ago into Homo sapiens, with a 50 per cent increase
in brain size, together with language capability and a modern
to the orthodox scenario, Homo sapiens emerged suddenly
c. 200,000 years ago, and yet made little use of his huge brain
for 160,000 years. Then, 40,000 years ago, Homo sapiens seemingly
underwent what we might call a transition to modern behaviour.
Having swept northwards, he expanded through most of the globe
by 13,000 years ago. After a further 1,000 years he discovered
agriculture, 6,000 years later he formed great civilisations
with advanced astronomical knowledge, and here we are after another
6,000 years sending space probes into the furthermost depths
of the Solar System.
It is a
scenario which seems utterly implausible and flies in the face
of our understanding of evolution as a slow and gradual process.
Common sense would suggest at least another million years for Homo
sapiens to develop from stone tools to using other materials,
and perhaps a hundred million years to master such trades as
mathematics, engineering and astronomy. We shouldn't even be
dreaming of space probes.
to the study of Sir Arthur Keith, mentioned earlier, how do we
reconcile his conclusions with the scientific evidence which
shows a 98 per cent genetic similarity between man and the chimpanzee?
I would now like to turn this ratio around and ask how a 2 per
cent difference in DNA can account for the astonishing difference
between man and his primate 'cousins'. After all, a dog shares
98 per cent of its genes with a fox, yet the two animals closely
resemble each other.
we must explain how a mere 2 per cent genetic difference can
account for so many 'value added' features in mankind - the brain,
language, modern anatomy and sexuality - to name but a few.
it is a strange fact that Homo sapiens has only 46 chromosomes
compared to 48 in chimpanzees and gorillas. The theory of natural
selection has been unable to suggest how the fusing together
of two chromosomes - a major structural change - should have
come about in such a short time scale.
everything is not 'hunky dory' with Darwinism. Yes its general
principles are of great value in explaining the evolution of
animals and specific organs such as the eye, but severe doubts
surround its practical application to man.
have been continually understated for the simple reason that
scientists regard Darwinism as the only alternative to the anathema
of Creationism. And since Darwinism must therefore be the key
to the existence of Homo sapiens, scientists have forced
the theory to fit the facts and vice versa.
there be another alternative - a scientific rival to Darwinism?
Might it be possible that millions of years ago, or perhaps hundreds
of thousands of years ago, an intelligent extraterrestrial species
migrated to the Earth (perhaps due to the explosion of its home
planet - now the Asteroid Belt) and intervened in the course
of human evolution? Might such a species have hybridised itself
with an existing hominid on Earth? After all, the scientific
evidence does seem to suggest that an unknown hand upgraded Homo
erectus with a series of deliberate, focused improvements.
now is the time to reconsider Darwinism as it applies to mankind.
If Darwinism cannot explain the scientific evidence, then it
must, like the species which are its subject matter, adapt or