Does the Evidence REALLY Support Human Evolution? (Part I)
[EDITORS’ NOTE: This article is the first installment in a two-part series. Part II will follow next month.]
Macroevolution1 is the belief that all extant species emerged from previous species, beginning with a simple, single-celled organism. Macroevolution is accepted as true by the bulk of mainstream scientists, even though, without a God, it does not even have the means to get started on its path from single-celled organisms to humans. No sufficient evidence exists to support the blind belief that life could come from non-life, much less life that is equipped with an operating program, genetic information, and the ability to reproduce itself. The evidences which are claimed to support biological evolution, without fail, end up being irrelevant, inadequate, or even erroneous upon deeper investigation. But what about these supposed evidences of human evolution?
We as humans tend to have a special interest in human evolution, since the subject directly pertains to us. This truth no doubt explains why much of the hype over new alleged evidences for evolution focus on human evolution, in particular. Upon deeper examination, are the oft’-used evidences in support of human evolution legitimate?
Does the Fossil Record Support Human Evolution?
The fossil record is proclaimed by many to be decisive proof of human evolution. However, while evolution would predict the existence of billions of transitional fossils connecting all species (including humans) to their evolutionary precursors,2 that evidence is conspicuously absent in the fossil record. Each new fossil thought to be a potential candidate for a transitional form is, without exception, heavily debated amongst evolutionists themselves. Eventually, once other paleontologists have examined the fossil, and other fossils have been discovered that shed more light on previous fossils, the fossil is often agreed upon by evolutionists themselves not to be a transitional form towards humans. As in the case of alleged evidences for macroevolution in general, proclaimed fossil record evidences of human evolution are either inadequate, erroneous, or irrelevant in nature.
As we discuss elsewhere,3 the fossil evidence for Darwinian evolution in general, much less human evolution, simply is not available. If evolution happened, there should be fossil evidence of the transition of the original single-celled organism into its evolutionary descendants—i.e., there should be transitional fossils between the supposed common ancestors of all species on the planet. However, the late, well-known Harvard University evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould admitted years ago that evolutionists “have no direct evidence for smooth transitions.” He acknowledged: “All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt.”4 Writing in Paleobiology he explained: “The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.”5 “[T]he extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches: the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of the fossils.”6
Colin Patterson literally “wrote the textbook” on evolution. He was the paleontologist who served as the editor of the professional journal published by the British Museum of Natural History in London. In response to a letter asking why he did not include examples of transitional fossils in his book, he responded,
I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them…. Yet [Stephen Jay] Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils…. I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.7
Even after over a century of searching for homo fossils, one evolutionary scientist admitted several years ago, “The fossils that decorate our family tree are so scarce that there are still more scientists than specimens. The remarkable fact is that all the physical evidence we have for human evolution can still be placed, with room to spare, inside a single coffin.”8 According to evolutionists, themselves, the fossil evidence for human evolution is meager at best. Kate Wong, evolutionist and senior science writer for Scientific American, said, “The origin of our genus, Homo, is one of the biggest mysteries facing scholars of human evolution. Based on the meager evidence available, scientists have surmised that Homo arose in East Africa….”9 Paleontologists often rely on a few isolated fossil bones (or bone fragments), found here and there around the world, to construct their alleged tree of human evolutionary proof. Wong went on to say:
For decades paleoanthropologists have combed remote corners of Africa on hand and knee for fossils of Homo’s earliest representatives…. Their efforts have brought only modest gains—a jawbone here, and handful of teeth there. Most of the recovered fossils instead belong to either ancestral australopithecines or later members of Homo—creatures too advanced to illuminate the order in which our distinctive traits arose…. [W]ith so little to go on, the origin of our genus has remained as mysterious as ever.10
Mariette DiChristina, editor-in-chief of Scientific American, also admitted that “[p]ieces of our ancient forebears generally are hard to come by…. Scientists working to interpret our evolution often have had to make do with studying a fossil toe bone here or a jaw there.”11 New Scientist described the available fossil evidence for humans as “part of a face here” or “a jawbone fragment there.”12 Supposed human evolution fossils “generally amount to just a few fragments rather than complete skeletons.”13 Are fragments of toe bones, faces, and jawbones sufficient evidence to substantiate human evolution?
In their 2023 article in American Scientist, “The Inevitably Incomplete Story of Human Evolution,” Bernard Wood, a paleoanthropologist and professor at George Washington University, as well as adjunct senior scientist at the National Museum of Natural History, and paleoanthropologist Alexis Uluutku of George Washington University, acknowledged: “Reconstructing that braided rope [of human evolutionary lineage—JM] would be a scientific challenge in any case, but it is all the more difficult because of major gaps in the fossil record.”14 Warning all modern paleoanthropologists, they explain that, “the existing human fossil record is incomplete in almost all respects, with little chance that any narrative explanation offered today can be the right one.”15 Mentioning creationists as capitalizing on evolutionary paleoanthropologist blunders over the years, they explain, “Accounts based on incomplete data sets can sometimes, misleadingly sound definitive,” and yet,
It is accepted practice in paleoanthropology to present detailed reconstructions of human evolutionary history that rarely acknowledge the extent to which they are incomplete and bound to change. But this practice does a disservice to all concerned. It would be more helpful as well as more accurate, to acknowledge that the hominin fossil record is incomplete and that there are therefore limits to what can be said about it.16
“The bottom line,” they explain, “is that taxonomic proposals, phylogenetic reconstructions, and classifications are all hypotheses. They are all subject to testing and will inevitably be corroborated or revised as new evidence accumulates.”17 Sadly, although the typical fossil evidences for human evolution are based on very few samples and, therefore, are inconclusive, mainstream evolutionists proclaim their scant evidence as though it is authoritative. However, Wood and Uluutku warn: “The smaller the sample, the greater the opportunity for the observed value of a trait to be biased by random sampling and measurement error,” which disallows results from being “reproduced by others” and causes “mistrust between scientists and the public.”18
They further acknowledge: “Hypotheses involving extinct taxa inevitably rest on evidence from the bones and teeth that are preserved in the fossil record. Unfortunately, the hard tissues of some types of living monkeys and apes can look so similar that it is almost impossible to tell which bone or tooth comes from which species.”19 Which species does the fossil belong to: an extinct hominid or a living ape or monkey? Oftentimes, according to Wood and Uluutku, the selected interpretation is the result of “confirmation bias”—
the all-too-human tendency to see what we expect (or hope) to see, sometimes at the cost of seeing accurately. Rarely operating at a conscious level, confirmation bias involves focusing on and giving excessive weight to evidence that supports an already-favored conclusion while overlooking or devaluing evidence to the contrary. Probably the best known example of confirmation bias in this field centers on a fossil that eventually proved to be no more than a hoax, the notorious Piltdown Man…. One of the dangers of confirmation bias is that it can lead individuals, including researchers, to reach conclusions prematurely, stopping the search for objective evidence because they perceive the case for an outcome…to be stronger than it actually is. The result can be to prop up incorrect hypotheses or to promote overconfidence in a hypothesis….20
The evidence for human evolution is inadequate at best. Does that truth dissuade many evolutionists from accepting evolution? Since their acceptance of evolution is already based on blind, evidence-less faith in many other areas,21 why would it? Evolutionary paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has become famous over the past decade for discovering hominid fossils (e.g., Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi). He admitted that there is a lack of human evolutionary evidence in the fossil record. However, his blind faith in evolution isn’t shaken by the fossil record’s failure to provide necessary evidence. He baselessly stated: “[W]e really need a better record—and it’s out there.”22
Notably, to his credit, Berger subtly chided other paleontologists for their standard practice of assigning fossil fragments to a particular genus, since isolated bones are not enough evidence to know where a species belongs. He explained that his fossil discoveries show “that one can no longer assign isolated bones to a genus.”23 He said that “you can’t take a mandible [lower jaw], a maxilla [upper jaw] or a collection of teeth and try to predict what the rest of the body looks like.”24 If a paleontologist does so, he is likely to make a mistake. Bernard Wood, again, agreed that Berger is “absolutely right.”25 One should not expect the paleoanthropology community to stop such unwise practices, since the human evolutionary “tree” would have to be essentially cut down and used as firewood, considering that the bulk of the evidence for human evolution is comprised of such isolated bones.
One would suspect that, if Berger and Wood are right, evolutionists might be prone to misidentification of fossils at first glance. Enter the parade of human evolution blunders and hoaxes that have been championed over the past two centuries. Here are but a few:26
- Java Man—a supposed human ancestor later found to have been erroneously based on the skull cap of a gibbon and fossilized teeth and thigh bone of a modern human
- Piltdown Man—mentioned earlier, was originally thought to be a human evolutionary ancestor, but later found to be a forgery using a modified orangutan jawbone and a portion of a modern human skull
- Nebraska Man—an alleged human ancestor based on a single tooth, later found to be from a wild pig
- Flipper Man—another alleged human evolutionary ancestor based on what was later acknowledged to be a fossilized rib of a dolphin
- Orce Man—an alleged ancestor based on a skull cap, later found to be from a donkey
- Java Man 2—A few years after the Java Man find, but before the mistake had been discovered, in 1926, Professor Heberlein of the Dutch Medical Service, found what appeared to be a complete Java Man cranium in the same area that Java Man had been discovered. Again, the fossil was hailed as more evidence of this transitional creature—until Time magazine ran a retraction in 1927. In the retraction, the Smithsonian Institute said that the cranium was actually the kneecap of an elephant.27
- Southwestern Colorado Man—In the same Java Man 2 retraction, Dr. Ales Hrdlicka of the Smithsonian Institution noted that, “The ‘Southwestern Colorado Man,’ lately deduced from a set of Eocene teeth, was a myth, the teeth having proved to be those of an antique horse.”28
- Calaveras Man—In July of 1866, Josiah Whitney, the head of California’s geological survey, unveiled his discovery of a skull that had been found in Calaveras County, presenting a paper to the California Academy of Natural Sciences. It was discovered in a mineshaft beneath volcanic deposits believed to be a million years old—making it, at the time, the oldest known human ancestor on the continent. Eventually, once again, it was determined to be a hoax—planted by local miners in the mine. Carbon dating revealed that the skull was approximately 1,000 years old.29
- Neanderthal Man—Neanderthals are often depicted as having sub-human intelligence: cave men grunting and hitting things with clubs. However, in the words of evolutionary anthropologist of Washington University in St. Louis (one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Neanderthals), “Detailed comparisons of Neanderthal skeletal remains with those of modern humans have shown that there is nothing in Neanderthal anatomy that conclusively indicates locomotor, manipulative, intellectual or linguistic abilities inferior to those of modern humans.”30 Further, genetic evidence suggests that modern humans (i.e., Homo sapiens), Neanderthals, and Denisovans all had children together in the past, proving that they are all human (i.e., part of the “human kind”).31 Concerning the results of sequencing the Neanderthal Genome, Ed Green (Assistant Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz) explained: “Two chimpanzees are roughly as different in DNA sequence as a human and a Neanderthal.”32 In other words, a human and Neanderthal are both just as much human as two chimpanzees are chimpanzee.
- Hobbit Man—In 2004, paleontologists discovered bones from seven individuals on the island of Flores. By giving “Hobbit Man” (Homo floresiensis) a name that distinguishes him from a normal man, evolutionists leave the impression with the public that another ancient “sub-human” has been discovered. More recent evidence, however, has revealed that Homo floresiensis is likely merely another human, possibly even merely a human suffering from Down Syndrome.33
- Cro-Magnon Man—Once again, by giving 1868 Cro-Magnon fossils a special name, evolutionists leave the impression that primitive, “sub-human” missing links have been found, substantiating evolution. Further analysis of Cro-Magnon fossils, however, has revealed that Cro-Magnon Man is both anatomically and even genetically like modern man.34 If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck…and, in this case, bleeds like a duck, it’s a duck.
Are creationists making these instances up? Hardly. In the words of famous skeptic Michael Shermer, executive director of the Skeptics Society and prior monthly contributor to Scientific American, “Hoaxes like Piltdown Man and honest mistakes like Nebraska Man, Calaveras Man, and Hesperopithecus are in time exposed. In fact, it was not creationists who exposed these errors, it was scientists who did so.”35 While we disagree with his implication that creationists are not scientists, we very much agree that it is generally evolutionists themselves, to their credit, who uncover their own fossil blunders and hoaxes. Since they are unwilling to change their practices, expect more such mistakes as the years roll by.
What about the many supposed “species” found on human evolutionary trees in textbooks and museums that are not (yet) acknowledged to be hoaxes and mistakes? Are they proof of evolution?
Human evolutionary ancestry trees generally include the hominins, species whose Latin names begin with “homo” or “australopithecus” (i.e., the “australopithecines”). Many evolutionists believe that the australopithecines are the transitional species in the ancestry of humans, connecting us back to the common ancestor we supposedly shared with modern apes. As you study these charts, you will likely see in the human “family tree,” for example:
- Homo erectus
- Homo neanderthalensis
- Homo habilis
- Homo naledi
- Homo floresiensis
- Homo heidelbergensis
- Homo rudolfensis
- Homo sapiens
- Homo ergaster
- Australopithecus africanus
- Australopithecus afarensis
- Australopithecus (or Paranthropus) robustus
- Australopithecus (or Paranthropus) boisei
- Australopithecus anamensis
- Australopithecus sediba
Upon closer examination of these species and others, creationists have determined from statistical analysis that virtually all of the Homo species36 are likely varieties of humans that have walked the Earth in the past.37 While they are related to one another, the Homo varieties provide no evidence of having evolved from non-humans (e.g., the australopithecines). Notable is the fact that the creationist classification system (called baraminology) is more likely to detect true relationship, since it is designed to detect both similarities and distinctions between creatures. Evolutionary classification (e.g., cladistics), on the other hand, assumes all life to be related through common descent and, therefore, only detects similarities between species, even if the species have separate lineages in reality.
When God created “kinds” of life during Creation week (not to be confused with the modern term “species”—a biblical “kind” is thought to roughly correlate to the modern taxonomic category of “family” or “genus”), He created their genomes with enough potential variability to bring about immense diversity within each kind over time. For example, modern foxes, wolves, jackals, coyotes, dingoes, and all varieties of domestic dogs are thought to be descended from the originally created single “dog kind” that was created on Day 6 of Creation week. That “kind” would have been represented by two individuals on the Ark during the Flood. Similarly, the bulk of the many Homo varieties group together statistically in similarity and are thought to have descended from Noah and his family after the Flood.
The australopithecines, on the other hand, are found by Creation studies to group together, but separately from the Homo varieties—apparently their own created kind, with no ancestral relationship to humans.38 This prediction and subsequent verification by creationists is being acknowledged by more and more of the evolutionary community as well. Years ago, many in the evolutionary community began to reject all australopithecines as being ancestral to man at all: they are their own, separate group. Lord Solly Zuckerman, the famous British anatomist who studied australopithecines for over 15 years, concluded that if man did descend from an ape-like ancestor, he did so “without leaving any fossil traces of the steps of the transformation.”39 The late evolutionist, Ashley Montagu, said, “[T]he skull form of all australopithecines shows too many specialized and ape-like characters to be either the direct ancestor of man or of the line that led to man.”40 Based largely on the nature of Orrorin tugenensis teeth, Martin Pickford, evolutionary geologist from the College de France in Paris, and Brigitte Senut, French evolutionary paleontologist of France’s National Museum of Natural History, believe that all australopithecines should be placed in a side branch of the “evolutionary tree” leading to Orrorin tugenensis and dying out 1.5 million years ago, rather than in the evolutionary line leading to Homo sapiens.41
Today, this acknowledgement has become accepted to the point that the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. now depicts the australopithecines as being their own, separate branch from Homo in their depiction of the human evolutionary tree.42 Dembo, et al. demonstrated using statistical analysis of cranial features that the australopithecines group separately from members of Homo, rather than being their ancestors.43 Anthropologist Paul Szpak of McMaster University noted: “Determining which species of australopithecine (if any) is ancestral to the genus Homo is a question that is a top priority for many paleoanthropologists, but one that will likely elude any conclusive answers for years to come. Nearly every possible species has been suggested as a likely candidate, but none are overwhelmingly convincing.”44 Simply put, many evolutionists acknowledge that the evidence simply does not support the contention that humans descended from the australopithecines. So, the gap of evidence linking humans to an alleged ape-like ancestor is now more like a chasm. To believe in evolution requires, once again, a blind faith.
Bottom line: fossils which have long been used by evolutionists to provide evidence of the macroevolution of humans, bridging the gap between humans and the supposed human-ape common ancestor, are actually mere evidences of microevolution in the case of the Homo varieties (i.e., diversification within a single kind), and not evidence of human evolutionary ancestry at all in the case of the australopithecines. Ultimately, therefore, they are irrelevant evidences in determining the validity of human evolution.
1 Or the General Theory of Evolution/Darwinian Evolution.
2 Jeff Miller (2019), “Does the Fossil Record Support Creation and the Flood?” Reason & Revelation, 39:74-80, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1907w.pdf.
3 Cf. Ibid.
4 Stephen Jay Gould (1977), “Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” Natural History, 86:24, emp. added.
5 Stephen Jay Gould (1980), “Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?,” Paleobiology, 6:119-130, Winter, p. 127, emp. added.
6 Gould (1977), p. 13, emp. added.
7 Colin Patterson (1979), Letter of April 10, 1979 to Luther Sunderland: reprinted in Bible-Science Newsletter, 19:8, August, 1981, emp. added.
8 Lyall Watson (1982), “The Water People,” Science Digest, 90:44, May, emp. added.
9 Kate Wong (2012), “First of Our Kind,” Scientific American, 306:30-39, April, p. 31, emp. added.
10 Ibid., p. 32, emp. added.
11 Mariette DiChristina (2012), “The Story Begins,” Scientific American, 306:4, April, emp. added.
12 Colin Barras (2015), “New Species of Extinct Human Found in Cave May Rewrite History,” NewScientist.com, September 10, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730383-700-new-species-extinct-human-found-in-cave-may-rewrite-history/.
13 Ibid., emp. added.
14 Bernard Wood and Alexis Uluutku (2023), “The Inevitably Incomplete Story of Human Evolution,” American Scientist, 111:108, March-April, emp. added.
15 Ibid., 111:106, emp. added.
16 Ibid., 111:113, emp. added.
17 Ibid., 111:112, emp. added.
18 Ibid., 111:113, emp. added.
19 Ibid., 111:109, emp. added.
20 Ibid., 111:111, emp. added.
21 Jeff Miller (2017), “Evolutionists Have a Blind Faith,” Reason & Revelation, 37:131, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1711w.pdf.
22 As quoted in Wong, p. 39, emp. added.
23 Ibid., p. 34.
24 As quoted in Barras.
25 Wong, p. 36.
26 Bert Thompson and Brad Harrub (2003), The Truth About Human Origins (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), pp. 88-91; I. Anderson (1983), “Humanoid Collarbone Exposed as Dolphin’s Rib,” New Scientist, April 28, p. 199; Miquel Carandell Baruzzi (2020), The Orce Man (Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV).
27 “Science: A.A.A.S.” (1927), Time, January 10, https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,881620-2,00.html.
29 “The Notorious Calaveras Skull” (2009), Archaeology on-line, https://archive.archaeology.org/online/features/hoaxes/calaveras.html.
30 Erik Trinkaus (1978), “Hard Times Among the Neandertals,” Natural History, 87:58-63, December, p. 58.
31 Cf. Kate Wong (2010), “Neandertal Genome Study Reveals that We Have a Little Caveman in Us,” Scientific American, 6 May, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/neandertal-genome-study-r/; V. Slon, et al. (2018), “The Genome of the Offspring of a Neanderthal Mother and a Denisovan Father,” Nature, 561:113-116, 22 August, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0455-x.
32 “Neanderthals: Expert Q&A” (2012), NOVA ScienceNOW, October 4, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/green-neanderthals.html.
33 Jeff Miller (2015), “Hobbit Man: Another Blunder…And An Insult,” Reason & Revelation, 35:46-47, April, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1504_ws.pdf; Note that Creation scientists are still in disagreement about the placement of Homo floresiensis.
34 Jeff Miller (2011), “Cro-Magnon Man: Nothing but a ‘Modern’ Man,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/cro-magnon-man-nothing-but-a-modern-man-3501/.
35 Michael Shermer (2007), Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design (New York: Henry Holt), Kindle edition, p. 85.
36 There is debate over whether or not Homo habilis actually exists as a distinct species.
37 T.C. Wood (2016), “An Evaluation of Homo naledi and ‘Early’ Homo from a Young-Age Creationist Perspective,” Journal of Creation Theology and Science Series B: Life Sciences, 6:14-30; Note that the Australopithecus sediba, Homo naledi, and Homo floresiensis discoveries are still too recent to know with certainty where they belong.
39 Solly Zuckerman (1970), Beyond the Ivory Tower (New York: Taplinger), p. 64, emp. added.
40 Ashley Montagu (1957), Man: His First Two Million Years (Yonkers, NY: World Publishers), emp. added.
41 Cf. Brigitte Senut, Martin Pickford, Dominique Gommery, Pierre Mein, Kiptalam Cheboi, Yves Coppens (2001), “First Hominid From the Miocene,” Comptes Rendus de l’Academie des Science, Series IIA-Earth and Planetary Science, 332:137-144, January 30; Cf. Michael Balter (2001), “Early Hominid Sows Division,” ScienceNOW, February 22, http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2001/02/22-03.html, and Angela M.H. Schuster (2001), “Special Report: Ancient Ancestors?” Archaeology, 54:24-25, July/August.
42 “Human Family Tree” (2020), What Does It Mean to Be Human? Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History on-line, https://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-family-tree. The American Museum of Natural History in New York does as well [cf. “Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins Educator’s Guide” (2007), American Museum of Natural History, https://www.amnh.org/content/download/58856/954173/version/5/file/human_origins_educators_guide.pdf, p. 5].
43 Mana Dembo, et al. (2016), “The Evolutionary Relationships and Age of Homo naledi: An Assessment Using Dated Bayesian Phylogenic Methods,” Journal of Human Evolution, 97:22. Again, Australopithecus sediba is the exception. The authors found that it may or may not group with Homo—insufficient evidence is currently available. Note also that the authors considered only cranial characters in their analysis.
44 Paul Szpak (2007), “Evolution of the Australopithecines,” Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/treehouses/?treehouse_id=4438#AboutThisPage, emp. added; Specifically concerning the famous Australopithecus africanus, the Australian Museum admits that it “was once considered to be a direct ancestor of modern humans but new finds have challenged this position. Many scientists now believe this species represents a side branch in our evolutionary family tree but there is disagreement about its exact relationship to other species” [Fran Dorey (2018), “Australopithecus africanus,” Australian Museum on-line, 11 November, https://australian.museum/learn/science/human-evolution/australopithecus-africanus/]. Concerning the robust australopithecine species (robustus and boisei), the Encyclopedia Britannica explains that Robert Broom was the first to discover their existence: “Broom’s choice of the name Paranthropus (meaning “to the side of humans”) reflects his view that this genus was not directly ancestral to later hominins, and it has long been viewed as a distant side branch on the human evolutionary tree” [Donald C. Johanson and Henry McHenry (2018), “Australopithecus: Fossil Hominin Genus,” Encyclopedia Britannica on-line, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Australopithecus].
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