Sediba: Yet Another Paleo-Blunder
Since their discovery in 2008, we have been responding to the waves of media hype over the Australopithecus sediba fossils—claimed to be pieces of two individuals thought to be representative of the missing link between the Australopithecines and the Homo genus (cf. Butt, 2010; Miller, 2012a; Miller, 2012b). The media proclaimed the fossils to be evolutionary “game changers” (Potter, 2011), the “first of our kind” (Wong, 2012), and “strong confirmation of evolutionary theory” (Potter). As we predicted, enough time has now gone by for further study to be done on the fossils, and the hoopla over the find seems to have all but disappeared.
In fact, once again, a complete 180 degree turnaround is underway. An article appearing in New Scientist in 2014 started with the sentence, “One of our closest long-lost relatives may never have existed. The fossils of Australopithecus sediba, which promised to rewrite the story of human evolution, may actually be the remains of two species jumbled together” (Barras, 2014). Ella Been of Tel Aviv University in Israel studies the spines of ancient hominins and ran across a paper in Science magazine that assessed the spine of sediba. After conducting her own study, Yoel Rak (also of Tel Aviv) and she “conclude that there are not two but four individuals” represented by the sediba fossils—separate individuals whose bones were mixed up during the (catastrophic) event that began the fossilization process (Barras). They presented their study at a meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society in Calgary, Canada in April, 2014. This revelation, once again, highlights how easy it is for evolutionists to be wrong in their conclusions about fossils, especially considering that their conclusions are based on “meager evidence” (Wong, p. 31), like a “toe bone here or a jaw there” (DiChristina, 2012, p. 4).
Recall from our last article addressing sediba that Lee Berger, the evolutionary paleoanthropologist of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa who discovered the sediba fossils, chided the standard practice in the paleontological community of trying to draw too much information from single, isolated bones. The sediba skeletons were thought to be more complete than typical fossil finds (even though the sediba skeletons were nowhere near being even 50% complete). Berger argued that if any of the bones he found had been found isolated, as is the typical scenario in fossil finds, completely different conclusions would have been drawn about the skeletal anatomy. He said, “Sediba shows that one can no longer assign isolated bones to a genus” (as quoted in Wong, p. 34). Ironically, now even his discovery, which was thought to be more complete, has also apparently been shown to be inadequate in determining the anatomy of an ancient skeleton. His assessment appears to have fallen victim to the same erroneous practice in paleontology that he chided. To make matters worse, according to the New Scientist article, “Berger’s latest work hints that the young male’s vertebrae may show signs of disease. If so, they are not representative of the species” (p. 11). That would mean that the sediba fossils cannot even be used as evidence of a transitional species, since the normal anatomy of the species would remain unknown.
The fossil record should be filled with billions of transitional fossils if Darwinian evolution actually occurred, but as we have highlighted time and again—and even many of the evolutionists themselves frequently admit—the evidence for the evolution of humans from an ape-like ancestor is lacking. The fossil record continues to support what creationists predict to be the case if the biblical model is true. God created the original “kinds” (Genesis 1:21,24-25) of creatures, and only diversification within those kinds has occurred over time. Believing that we evolved from a single-celled organism billions of years ago amounts to a wild, irrational leap.
Barras, Colin (2014), “Missing Link Fossils May Be a Jumble of Species,” New Scientist, 222:11, April 12.
Butt, Kyle (2010), “Australopithecus Sediba: Another Relative We Never Had,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2872.
DiChristina, Mariette (2012), “The Story Begins,” Scientific American, 306:4, April.
Miller, Jeff (2012a), “Australopithecus Sediba: Evolutionary Game Changer?” Reason & Revelation, 32:33-35, March, http://apologeticspress.org/APPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1024&article=1741#.
Miller, Jeff (2012b), “Sediba Hype Continues,” Reason & Revelation, 32:92-93, September, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1093&article=2039.
Potter, Ned (2011), “Evolutionary ‘Game Changer’: Fossil May Be Human Ancestor,” ABC News, September 8, http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/fossils-south-africa-called-evolutionary-game-changer/story?id=14474976#.Tmou Xw8wezs.email.
Wong, Kate (2012), “First of Our Kind,” Scientific American, 306:30-39, April.